Thanksgiving Turkey Reuben Sandwich Recipe

For the best post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches, put a Reubenesque spin on your leftover roast bird.

Photograph: Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • Leftover turkey gravy adds savory depth and meatiness to Russian dressing.
  • Combining sweet and sour cranberry sauce with the fermented funk of sauerkraut lends holiday vibes to a classic deli sandwich.
  • Preheating the leftover turkey and cranberry-kraut for the sandwich ensures that the cheese melts quickly upon assembly.

Turkey sandwiches are essential post-Thanksgiving fare and a highlight of the holiday weekend. Turn your leftover roast bird into a holiday-themed turkey Reuben, with gravy-spiked Russian dressing and kraut that gets a cranberry sauce kick in the pants. If you didn't get in enough family arguing over the course of dinner on Thursday, feel free to stir the pot by asking people whether they think this is a Reuben or a Rachel and if the term "sando" is acceptable or obnoxious sandwich slang. One thing that everyone can agree on: these are some tasty, full-bodied sandwiches. Call them Reubenesque.

Recipe Facts



Active: 20 mins
Total: 25 mins
Makes: 4 sandwiches

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  • For the Russian Dressing:
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) turkey gravy
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) chopped dill pickles or dill pickle relish
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the Sandwiches:
  • 1 pound (450g) leftover roast turkey, pulled or sliced into 1/4-inch-thick pieces
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) homemade turkey or chicken stock, or store-bought, low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups (8 ounces; 225g) sauerkraut
  • 1/4 cup (3 ounces; 85g) homemade or store-bought cranberry sauce
  • 5 tablespoons (70g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 slices rye bread
  • 8 slices (8 ounces; 225g) Swiss cheese


  1. For the Russian Dressing: In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, ketchup, gravy, pickles, horseradish, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and set aside.

  2. For the Sandwiches: Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Lay a sheet of aluminum foil on a rimmed baking sheet and place turkey in the center. Bring foil edges up to form walls, then add stock to turkey. Bring edges of foil together, and crimp seal foil packet. Transfer to oven to heat turkey through, about 10 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine sauerkraut and cranberry sauce and set over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until warmed through, about 5 minutes; cover and keep warm.

  4. Evenly spread butter on one side of each slice of bread. Heat a larger cast iron skillet or griddle over medium heat. Working in batches, toast bread, butter-side down, until crisp and golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer toasted bread slices to a rimmed baking sheet, toasted-side up; allow to cool slightly.

  5. Flip bread slices over, so untoasted sides are facing up. Spread Russian dressing evenly on each slice of bread. If you are finishing sandwiches on a griddle or in a skillet, layer one slice of cheese on each slice of bread. If you are finishing sandwiches in the oven, layer one slice of cheese on only four slices of bread. Divide turkey evenly over four bread slices (for oven sandwiches, use the four slices without cheese), making sure to let any excess stock drip off before arranging on bread. Divide cranberry-sauerkraut mixture evenly over turkey. Layer remaining cheese slices over cranberry-sauerkraut.

  6. If finishing sandwiches in the oven, transfer baking sheet to the oven and bake until cheese is fully melted, about 3 minutes. Close sandwiches, pressing each one together lightly. If finishing sandwiches on a griddle, close sandwiches and cook over medium heat, pressing down on sandwiches with a weight or spatula, until cheese is fully melted, about 2 minutes on each side. Serve immediately.


Special equipment

Rimmed baking sheet or 12-inch cast iron skillet or electric griddle; Chef's Press

Make-Ahead and Storage

The sandwiches are best enjoyed immediately. Russian dressing can be made ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

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