Tempeh Reuben


The Reuben sandwich – a juicy, hot sandwich consisting of corned beef, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese slathered with thousand island dressing and stuffed between two sliced of toasted rye bread.  It has always been a St. Patrick’s Day treat in the Vaagen household and is consumed annually along with potatoes colcannon and some sock flavored Guiness (have y’all noticed how gross Guiness is?).  The consistent reappearance of The Reuben on the Irish holiday has always led me to believe that it was Irish in origin but a quick google search has its suggested birthplace as Omaha, Nebraska (same as mine…coincidence?  I think not). There are varying and conflicting reports as to the origin of the Reuben and none of them are even slightly Irish in origin.  It appears to be more likely concocted by a German/Jewish person which is not surprising given the ingredients.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter to me.  A dank sandwich is… well… a dank sandwich and I’ve taken to eating Reubens year round and will continue using St. Patrick’s Day as an excuse to revel in their glory.  My vegan version is not only way better than the original but it is quite easy to make and serves as an excellent base for your St. Patty’s Day booze guzzling.  Here we substitute tempeh for the corned beef, Chao cheese for the Swiss, and make a simple vegan analogue for the thousand island dressing.

You can decide for yourself how safe the green beer is. 


(makes approx 3 sandwiches per 8oz of tempeh)

  • 1 loaf of your favorite rye break – sliced – I prefer the round and fluffly style like the New York Rye loaves by the Ashland Baking Company.  You get what you like.

  • 1 8oz package tempeh – cut into about 1/4″ slices – the thinner you slice the more sandwiches you’ll get

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 clove garlic – minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds

  • a splash of tamari – probably about 2 teaspoons if you’re the measuring type

  • a splash of water

  • Sauerkraut – as much as you like – be sure to squeeze out excess liquid before adding to sandwich

  • 1 package Chao cheese – original flavor – you can substitute your fave vegan Swiss here as well

    Thousand Island dressing  (makes about 3/4 cup)

    • 1/2 cup vegan mayo

    • 2 tablespoons ketchup

    • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish

    • 1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce

    • 1 tsp red wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice

    • 2 green onions white and green parts – chopped

    • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Mix the Thousand Island dressing ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

  2. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil, garlic, and caraway seeds.

  3. Once the garlic begins to sizzle, add the tempeh slices and cook until lightly brown on both sides – turn the heat down a bit to prevent the garlic from burning.

  4. When the tempeh is lightly browned, add the tamari and water.  Cover and allow to steam for about 2 minutes then turn heat down to low to keep warm.

  5. At this point go ahead and toast your slices of rye bread.

  6. Place the slices of tempeh on what will be the bottom half of the sandwich.

  7. Follow with as much sauerkraut as you think the sandwich can handle, top with cheese to cover and low broil in oven or toaster oven until cheese has melted – about 2-3 minutes.

  8. Slather with Thousand Island dressing and place the other slice of rye bread on top.

  9. Chow Down – be sure to keep the leftover dressing handy for some extra dank dunks!