What Is a Rachel Sandwich and How’s it Different from Reuben?

When it comes to sandwiches, from your favorite savory deli meat sandwich to the sweet goodness of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the options are endless and sure to never leave you bored. There seem to be as many variants as there are people to think them up, and it’s almost certain that you can find a sandwich to suit each person’s taste and preference. Little wonder then that you might be wondering what a Rachel sandwich is.

Not to worry though, whether you’ve come across one or not, by the end of this piece you’ll not only know what a Rachel sandwich is, how to make one, but you will also be able to differentiate it from its cousin, the Reuben sandwich. Let’s get right to it.

What Is a Rachel Sandwich?

A Rachel sandwich is a variation of the more popular “Reuben sandwich”. It is made by substituting two (2) major ingredients of the Reuben sandwich; turkey or pastrami is used in place of corned beef, and creamy coleslaw is used in place of sauerkraut. Some persons might also replace the Russian dressing with French dressing instead.

Also called a ‘Turkey Reuben’, a Rachel sandwich might not have standardized ingredients, but the main identifier is the use of turkey and the absence of corned beef. Like the Reuben, it also requires some light grilling of the bread used – usually rye bread, although some more adventurous persons might experiment with sourdough. An unconventional way to make Rachel sandwich is to add barbecue sauce to the mix. The Rachael sandwich is also known by other names in some parts of the world and might be referred to as a ‘Georgia Reuben’ or ‘California Reuben’.

To make a Rachel sandwich, you’ll need the following;

  • 2 slices rye bread
  • 2 tablespoons Russian dressing
  • 1/4 cup coleslaw
  • 1/4-pound turkey – thinly sliced, or pastrami
  • 2 to 3 slices of Swiss cheese
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter – softened

The steps involved are straightforward, especially if you already have experience making deli sandwiches. Here’s what you have to do;

  1. Prepare your ingredients
  2. Spread Russian dressing on each slice of the rye bread
  3. Drain excess water from the coleslaw using a colander.
  4. On one of the slices of rye bread, place the turkey/pastrami and the Swiss cheese.
  5. Spread the coleslaw over the cheese layer
  6. Cover it all up with the remaining slice of bread.
  7. Spread the softened butter over the top and bottom of the sandwich.
  8. Grill lightly in a heavy skillet or griddle over medium-low heat until each side of the bread has browned and the cheese melted.

A Rachel sandwich is considered a healthier option than a Reuben due to the elimination of corned beef, which has high fat and sodium contents and may contain carcinogens – i.e. substances that increase the risk of developing cancer.

What Is a Rachel Sandwich and How's it Different from Reuben?

Why Is It Called a Rachel Sandwich?

There is no definite story or history on why it is called a Rachel sandwich. However, since it is a variation of the Reuben sandwich, it is often said that the name may have originated from a popular song in 1871 called “Reuben and Rachel”.

Where Did the Rachel Sandwich Originate?

For a sandwich without a documented origin story or patent, it is hard to determine where the Rachel sandwich originated from. A way to estimate would be to check the origin of the Reuben sandwich, but sadly there is no agreed-upon origin story for that either, with about three (3) different versions being spoken of. There is, however, mention of a Rachel sandwich in newspapers as far back as 1931, but no claim as to what person or region takes the glory for its creation.

You’ll find here several citations of the plausible origin of the Reuben sandwich and how the Rachel came to be from it.

What Is the Difference Between a Reuben And a Rachel Sandwich?

The differences between a Reuben sandwich and a Rachel sandwich are not in the making process, but in some of the ingredients used. While a Reuben sandwich is made using corned beef and sauerkraut – a fermented and sour tasting cabbage, a Rachel is made using deli sliced turkey or pastrami and creamy coleslaw, which is crunchy. The Russian dressing used in a Reuben may also be replaced with French dressing or barbecue sauce in a Rachel.

Asides from these, everything else stays the same. They both use rye bread and Swiss cheese and are grilled till the bread is golden brown and the cheese melts.

Read also: Doner Kebab Vs Gyro – The Differences

What’s A Reuben Sandwich Made Of?

A Rueben sandwich is made of two (2) slices of rye bread filled with corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing that is lightly grilled until both sides of the bread are brown and the cheese has melted.

To make a Reuben sandwich, you’ll need the following;

  • 2 slices rye bread
  • 2 tablespoons Russian dressing
  • 1/4 cup sauerkraut
  • 1/4-pound corned beef – thinly sliced
  • 2 to 3 slices of Swiss cheese
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter – softened

The steps involved in its preparation are the same as those for making the Rachel sandwich. The only difference is that for every place in the Rachel where you had turkey/pastrami and coleslaw, you will be using corned beef and sauerkraut respectively. The sauerkraut must also be drained before it is used just as with the coleslaw used in the Rachel.

Read also: Ground Beef Four Days After the Sell-by Date? [Things to Expect]


A Rachel sandwich is a great treat, especially if you’d have liked a Reuben but wish it were less sour and creamier. It’s also a healthier option and might be considered to be an improved version of the Reuben sandwich; you’ll definitely have no regrets should you find yourself trying one or two.

By Johny

Meet Johny, our exceptionally talented bartender at Bourbono. With an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and an innate ability to mix the perfect drink, Johny is the heart and soul of our establishment’s bar. In addition to his skillful bartending, he also contributes to the Bourbono blog, sharing his love for all things food-related but with a particular passion for beverages and the art of bartending.

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