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Tempeh Reuben Sandwich

in Other, Sandwiches

tempeh reuben 6






In my 23 years of life as a meat-eater, I can specifically remember eating sauerkraut only one time.  And I specifically remember absolutely hating the taste of it!  During my early college days I picked a Reuben sandwich off of the buffet line at the cafeteria out of pure curiosity.  It looked good and it sounded good so I figured, why not?  I took a big bite out of the sandwich and let’s just say, it was most definitely NOT what I had expected.  In fact, it tasted so bad to me that I actually had to spit it out (sorry for being graphic! ;)).  It is safe to say that since that experience, I have avoided sauerkraut like the plague.

So…you are probably wondering what lead me to give it another shot after having such a horrible first experience with the pickled cabbage.  And my answer to you?  Since I have become a vegetarian and developed a healthier eating lifestyle, my taste buds have truly changed.  I now find myself trying, eating, and craving foods that I was afraid of before or thought that I would never like (um..hello, mushrooms!).  Since my eating habits have changed so greatly, I thought that it might be possible for my dislike of sauerkraut to have changed, as well.  I have seen vegetarian Reuben sandwiches on several restaurant menus and have been tempted several times to order them, but I could not quite get up the courage to do so.  Instead, I decided to “play it safe” and try sauerkraut at home, first.  I bought all of the necessary ingredients, compiled my own vegetarian version of the popular Irish sandwich (what better time to give it a try?), and…

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…surprised the heck out of myself!  I LOVED it! 🙂

Tempeh Reuben Sandwich

Servings: Makes 1 sandwich


For the marinade:

1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 TB low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 TB water
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp coriander
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp yellow mustard

For the sauce:

2 TB vegan mayo (I used Vegenaise brand)
1/2 tsp ketchup
1/2 tsp sriracha sauce
1/4 tsp yellow mustard

Additional ingredients:

EVOO cooking spray
1/3 block tempeh, cut into 4 strips
2 slices 100% whole wheat bread
coconut oil (can use margarine or butter, if desired)
2 to 3 TB sauerkraut
1 slice part-skim sharp cheddar cheese (use Daiya cheese to make vegan)


1. Combine all marinade ingredients into a small mixing bowl and stir until well-combined.  Add tempeh slices and marinade in fridge for at least 30 minutes.

2. Spray a small skillet with EVOO cooking spray.  Add the marinated tempeh and a little bit of the marinade to the pan and cook over medium heat until heated through, about 3-5 minutes on each side.

3. While the tempeh is cooking, combine the ingredients for the sauce.  Stir well.

4. Spray a separate skillet or griddle with EVOO cooking spray.  Heat over medium heat until warm.

5. Spread one side of each slice of bread with coconut oil.

6. Spread sauce onto the non-coconut oil side of one of the pieces of bread.  Place this piece of bread, coconut oil side down, into the skillet.  Place the tempeh slices on top of the sauce.  Top the tempeh with sauerkraut and cheese.  Top the sandwich with the second piece of bread, coconut oil side up.

7. Cook for approximately 3-5 minutes, or until the bottom slice of bread is golden brown.

8. Carefully flip the sandwich and cook an additional 3-5 minutes.

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9. Serve your Tempeh Reuben Sandwich with your favorite sides.  I chose mixed vegetables and a dill pickle spear.

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Oh, and do not forget to cut your sandwich in half – diagonally, of course! 😉

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I can now honestly say that I really like sauerkraut, which are words that I never thought that I would write or say.  Not only am I a newly converted tempeh lover (this sandwich made me fall in love even more!), but I am a sauerkraut eater.  Pretty awesome, if I do say so myself! 😉

The meaty taste and texture of the marinated tempeh combined with the savory cheese, sweet and spicy sauce, and the tangy sauerkraut made for a delicious sandwich.  I may not have liked the “traditional” Reuben sandwich a few years ago, but I sure love this vegetarian version!

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I am consistently finding it to be more and more fun to try all of these “new to me” foods (and even not so new foods).  It is like being introduced to a whole new world of delicious food.  This just goes to show that what you think you “don’t like” maybe not actually be true.  So go try a new food!  Or try cooking with food that you may not have liked years ago, but have not tried since.  You may be pleasantly surprised like I was!

And there you have it…the perfect recipe for those of you with leftover sauerkraut from this past Sunday’s St. Patty’s Day holiday!  Enjoy :).

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{ 55 comments… add one }
  • chasingchels March 19, 2013, 7:34 pm
    Mmm I keep saying that I want to get a Reuben or a Rachael whenever I see them on menus but I haven't been brave enough yet. Trying it out at home, however, sounds like a wise idea since I can change it up if I have to :P
  • Leigha March 19, 2013, 8:34 pm
    Never tried sauerkraut.. I would like to though! Never had Reuben either. Love all your recipes!
  • Nicole @ Fruit 'N' Fitness March 19, 2013, 8:36 pm
    I actually really like sauerkraut, still have yet to try tempeh. I would love to try making a ruben at home.
  • Alaine @ My GF& DF Living March 19, 2013, 10:14 pm
    I am actually a big sauerkraut fan. This looks great. I would love to try making this!
  • moderngirlnutrition March 19, 2013, 11:46 pm
    Love the addition of sauerkraut!! Yum :)
  • Sara @ Nourish and Flourish March 19, 2013, 11:57 pm
    I love tempeh! It's been a long time since I've bought it though; I think I OD'd as a vegetarian, so it never calls to me in the store, but that may change after reading this post. You've inspired me! The marinade sounds amazing, too--love all those flavors. And girl, I love your love for sriracha! I had a similar experience with sauerkraut--my mom bought me a rueben sandwich when I was young, and thinking it was simply roast beef, I was very unpleasantly surprised when I bit into it and got a sour/tangy flavor! Now I enjoy sauerkraut occasionally, but usually only when I'm eating German food. :) Hope you're having a fantastic week! <3 xoxo
    • cleaneatingveggiegirl March 20, 2013, 7:23 am
      You should definitely give tempeh a try again :). And yes...sriracha is amazing. I can't NOT love it!
  • Jan @ Sprouts n Squats March 20, 2013, 12:46 am
    Wow this sandwich looks friggin amazing! My supermarket only sometimes has tempeh but you are motivating me to track it down and make this :)
  • Michelle @ Eat Move Balance March 20, 2013, 4:26 am
    Sauerkraut is fantastic!! I'll throw it on top of salads or just eat it plain. :)
    • cleaneatingveggiegirl March 20, 2013, 7:24 am
      I actually just added it into a meal that I made last night randomly and it really worked!!
  • Greta March 20, 2013, 5:36 am
    Woohoo sauerkraut! I actually love it. I would love to have a bite of this yummy sandwich!
  • Lillian @ Seize the Latte March 20, 2013, 8:13 am
    It's amazing how much your tastebuds can change with both age and new eating habits! And I love the idea of using tempeh in a Reuben -- that's a brilliant way to veg-ify it. :)
  • Natalie March 20, 2013, 8:21 am
    Awesome sandwich! Looks easy and delicious.
  • Laurie @ Love, Laugh, Laurie March 20, 2013, 8:36 am
    I used to hate sauerkraut too, but now I'm on board with it! This looks delish!
  • Alex @ therunwithin March 20, 2013, 9:11 am
    holy cow this sounds so freaking good
  • Sarah @ The Smart Kitchen March 20, 2013, 10:19 am
    I LOVE sauerkraut, but, like you, it is something I definitely didn't always enjoy. I can now eat it by the spoonful. This recipe looks phenomenal. I am going to have to mark it for the marinade alone. When I was in Colorado last spring, I had an amazing Tempeh Reuben that I then tried to recreate in salad form...and not nearly so creatively as you did. :)
  • Kelly @ Vegan Iowan March 20, 2013, 10:49 am
    Looks good! I'm so impressed by your ability to make SO many recipes and posts every week...you must be one busy girl! If I get 3 I feel good. We eat a lot of leftovers at my house ;-).
    • cleaneatingveggiegirl March 20, 2013, 11:11 am
      Blogging and cooking both definitely take up a good chunk of time for me. I probably cook about 5-6 nights out of the week. I LOVE leftovers. That is what my lunches always consist of.
  • Alex @ Cookie Dough Katzen March 20, 2013, 10:59 am
    You know I remember hating sauerkraut too. Maybe I should give it another shot!
  • kellamaphone March 20, 2013, 11:12 am
    ive always loooved sauerkraut! im from 'michigans little bavaria' so i imagine they throw you out of town if you dont like it. i am definitely guilty of ordering meatless reubaes at restaurants (though, lots of places do not have veg friendly sauerkraut), so ill need to try this out at home! ps did you switch hosting? my work computer suddenly thinks it needs to block your blog!!
    • cleaneatingveggiegirl March 20, 2013, 11:17 am
      Let me know if you give the recipe a try! :) I am still with Wordpress, but I did just recently purchase my own "domain," so that might be why?
  • ashley March 20, 2013, 11:21 am
    I think it's a great idea to try new foods or foods you used to not like - sometimes I'm shocked that I actually DO like things now. I guess taste buds change over the years? This looks delicious!
    • cleaneatingveggiegirl March 20, 2013, 10:29 pm
      I am definitely convinced that we really can change our taste buds. I am glad that mine have changed for the better!
  • makingthymeforhealth March 20, 2013, 12:02 pm
    Girl, you are on a roll with good recipes! I haven't had a Reuben since I was a teenager but I really used to love them. This is such a good idea, I can't wait to give it a try.
  • Rach @ This Italian Family March 20, 2013, 12:38 pm
    No way! You are blowing my mind right now. Because if you hated sauerkraut, but like it now then what if... what if... what if I don't actually hate it like I think I do, ha! Seriously, I can't stand the stuff... at least I think. I hated it as a kid and every time my dad made it, I remember leaving the house 'cause I couldn't stand the smell. But like you, my taste buds have changed so much over the years. What if I DO actually like it now? My husband would die laughing. He likes sauerkraut and every time he eats it, I make a big deal out of how terrible it is. He picks on me for refusing to try things that I am "positive" that I don't like. For example... popcorn. Which I hated growing up, but actually enjoy now. Or sushi (same story). Oh dear, I have a feeling my husband is going to get quite a laugh. On the bright side, I don't often get to surprise him. He might pass out from shock if he comes home and sees I am making sauerkraut. ;) Thanks for inspiring me to re-try old things. :)
    • cleaneatingveggiegirl March 20, 2013, 10:30 pm
      Haha, this cracks me up!! You should definitely give sauerkraut another try. You never know..you just might like it! :)
  • Elaine March 20, 2013, 1:12 pm
    Isn't it crazy how your tastes change?! I've had similar experiences and am always pleasantly surprised to try something that I used to hate but now have a taste for. Unfortunately, it also seems to go in reverse. Beets are the one food I can't stand anymore!
    • cleaneatingveggiegirl March 20, 2013, 10:31 pm
      It can be so great to discover "new" foods and incorporate them into my diet. Plus, being more adventurous and willing to try most anything is really fun!
  • aftertheivyleague March 20, 2013, 1:22 pm
    Oh my goodness, I haven't had a Reuben in forever! This looks so freaking good...I think at the very least I need to recreate that sauce! Great recipe!
  • Erin March 20, 2013, 1:26 pm
    I've always been scared to try sauerkraut! I think it's the smell.. And just out of curiosity what made you become vegetarian?
    • cleaneatingveggiegirl March 20, 2013, 10:33 pm
      You should definitely try it. You never know...you might like it!! I became a vegetarian originally because I had horrible acid reflux and hoped that it might help. It has helped. I have stayed a vegetarian because I love the food, rarely miss meat, and love eating a much healthier diet.
  • hlymre March 20, 2013, 1:57 pm
    That marinade sounds delicious. I may need to try it.. but with chicken.. sorry, don't judge ;)
  • erinksage March 20, 2013, 2:09 pm
    I also have eaten sauerkraut maybe once in my life and very distinctly disliked it. As a result, I've never even bothered with a Reuben. However, I will admit, this sandwich most certainly looks tasty!
    • cleaneatingveggiegirl March 20, 2013, 10:34 pm
      You should give it a try! And honestly, this sandwich is so good that you could probably leave the sauerkraut off of it and it'd still be delicious!
  • lrsaar March 20, 2013, 2:36 pm
    I used to be very picky when I was younger and my taste buds seemed to change right after college. (Or maybe my attitude towards trying new foods.) Either way, I am so much more willing to try new foods and about 95% of the time, I like whatever it is!
  • kaityscooking March 20, 2013, 5:25 pm
    yummm these look so good, i got a tempeh reuben at a restaurant by me not to long ago and was obsessed ! now i have a recipe to try to remake it with thanks !
  • Ginny McMeans March 20, 2013, 6:07 pm
    You have answered my prayers! Thanks for the recipe.

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