You're going to love this Vegan Tempeh Reuben! It is made with marinated and grilled tempeh, homemade Russian Dressing, and seeded rye bread for a saucy and delicious classic vegan sandwich.
Many years ago, a lifetime really, I worked as a server at a popular family-run restaurant in western Michigan. This was the early 2000s, in a small town, in the midwest. Eating vegan at that time was not quite the same it is now, 15 years later, in Portland, Oregon.
In the early 2000s, however, this restaurant was a vegan/vegetarian hub because it was one of the only places in town that, no matter your dietary preferences, had you covered. From breakfast to desserts, and everything in between, they made a great effort in offering incredible vegan options. I worked at this restaurant for many years, eating everything off the vegan menu many times over. Hands down, my favorite AND the best sandwich I'd ever had was the vegan tofu Reuben. When I left Michigan to come to Oregon, leaving that incredible restaurant behind, I put "remake the vegan Reuben" on the top of my to-do list.
And folks, I did just that.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.
How to Make Tempeh Reuben [Video]
Recommended Ingredients & Equipment
This vegan sandwich is a combination of smoky tempeh, homemade vegan Russian dressing, and zesty sauerkraut. It's a family and fan favorite and if you haven't tried it yet, I think you should!
Here is everything you need.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Tempeh - Tempeh is my favorite meat substitute for a vegan Reuben. It’s thick, chewy, with a delightful nutty texture. If you don’t like tempeh, try swapping it out for tofu or grilled eggplant for other variations of this delicious vegan sandwich.
- Vegetable Broth
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Vegan Worcestershire Sauce - Not all Worcestershire sauce is vegan. Most varieties use anchovies. Look for one marked vegan.
- Liquid Smoke - This gives the tempeh a delicious smokiness. Find liquid smoke in the condiment aisle of most well-stocked grocery stores. If you can’t find it, it can be omitted.
- Spices - You will need a blend of onion powder, garlic powder, and smoked paprika.
- Rye Bread - My bread of choice is Sprouted Rye Bread from Alvarado St. Bakery
- Vegan Russian Dressing - This dressing is key to making the perfect tempeh Reuben sandwich. You will need vegan mayonnaise, ketchup, white onion, prepared horseradish, hot sauce, vegan Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper.
- Vegan Swiss Cheese (optional) - If you want to add Swiss Cheese you can either make your own or look for a store bought variety. Daiya carries a swiss cheese that I recommend.
- Oil - Any neutral flavored high heat oil will do. I recommend avocado or coconut.
- Vegan Butter - Use any non-hydrogenated vegan butter or margarine.
For this recipe you will need a large shallow dish for marinating the tempeh, a large skillet, a chef’s knife, cutting board, and basic kitchen utensils. (<<affiliate links)
Check out the full list of my recommended kitchen tools and gadgets.
Best Bread for Tempeh Reuben
My go-to bread for this sandwich comes from Alvarado St. Bakery Co-op.
For this vegan Tempeh Reuben, I used Alvarado's Sprouted Rye Seed Bread which is a vegan, flour-less bread made with sprouted organic whole wheat berries and cultured wheat and filled with all kinds of seeds for a hearty, healthy, delicious rye bread that is easier on the planet AND easier on the body.
All of Alvarado Street Bakery Co-Op's products are made from sprouted grain. What's that, you might ask. Sprouted grain is grain that is harvested before the shoots from the seed turn into full-fledged plants. By harvesting them young, you get a grain that is lower in starch, allowing for higher proportions of other, more beneficial nutrients like protein, vitamins, and minerals.
How to Make Vegan Rueben Sandwich
Step One - Prepare the Tempeh
Cut tempeh in half lengthwise and then cut it through the middle for 4 thin slices. Set aside
Combine the ingredients for the tempeh marinade in a shallow dish. Add tempeh, ensuring that it is fully submerged, and marinate for at least 30 minutes. Feel free to marinate this for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
Once the tempeh has marinated, heat olive oil in a large skillet placed over medium heat. Add tempeh and cook for about 5 minutes per side, until dark brown. Once both sides are browned, add reserved marinade and let it cook-off in the skillet. This allows the flavors to seep into the tempeh deeper.
Step Two - Make the Russian Dressing
In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients for the Russian dressing together until well combined and smooth.
Step Three - Assemble the Vegan Sandwich
Butter 4 slices of Sprouted Rye Seed Bread. Place them on a skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes, until lightly toasted.
Flip the bread and on the uncooked side, add the Russian dressing to all 4 slices. Divide the sauerkraut between two slices, top with 2 pieces cooked tempeh, each, and a slice of vegan swiss, if using. Top with the second slice of bread and cook on each side for about 5 minutes, until bread is browned and everything is cooked all the way through.
Serving and Storing
Serving - Serve immediately with Creamy Tomato Soup or a large Caesar Salad.
Storing - Store leftover tempeh in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Store leftover Russian Dressing in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
More Vegan Sandwich Recipes
- Classic BLT
- Tofu Banh Mi
- 10-Minute Vegan Sloppy Joes
- Gourmet Vegan Grilled Cheese
- Vegan Philly Cheesesteak
- BBQ “Pulled Pork” Sandwich
- 8 ounces 1 package tempeh
- ½ cup vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 4 slices Alvarado's Sprouted Rye Seed Bread
- ½ heaping cup Sauerkraut
- ¼ cup vegan Russian Dressing
- vegan swiss cheese optional
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 tablespoon vegan butter
- Cut tempeh in half lengthwise and then cut it through the middle for 4 thin slices.
- Combine the ingredients for the tempeh marinade in a shallow dish. Add tempeh and marinate for at least 30 minutes.
- Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat with 2 tablespoons oil. Add tempeh and cook for about 5 minutes per side, until dark brown. Once both sides are browned, add reserved marinade and let it cook-off in the skillet. This allows the flavors to seep into the tempeh deeper.
- Butter 4 slices of Sprouted Rye Seed Bread. Place on the skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes, until lightly brown. Flip bread. On the cooked side, add Russian dressing to all slices of bread. Divide the sauerkraut between two slices, top with 2 pieces cooked tempeh, each, and a slice of vegan swiss, if using. Add the second slice of bread and cook on each side for about 5 minutes, until bread is browned and everything is cooked all the way through.
- Remove from heat and serve immediately.
nicole jones says
It was a great tasting sandwich that proved to be quick and delicious!
These were by far the best vegan reuben sandwiches I've had! They definitely satisfied my craving for them.
Ta’Shanne Horn says
A local vegan restaurant had a tempeh Ruben on their menu and was my absolute favorite. Can’t wait to try this out.
I’m so glad I came across this recipe! Really great. My husband and I kept talking about how tasty it is while we ate dinner. I love that it is simple and a different group of flavors than we usually have.
This was freaking awesome. I've been vegan for only about 3 months and have cooked a lot but most vegan recipes are meh, especially the ones that are imitating meat. But I ate these leftovers for 5 days straight and would gladly eat more if they weren't all gone. I doctored up the dressing a little and used vegan provolone as I couldn't find swiss, and it was great. I tried it with and without cheese since I don't always love the taste of it, and it is slightly better with cheese for the added decadence. Highly recommend especially if you're newly vegan- I don't feel like I'm missing out on a meaty Reuben.
nicole jones says
I also used vegan provolone and it was a great added taste to it.
Tamara Dachinger says
Absolutely love this sandwich. Because the sauerkraut is salty, I omitted the salt in the marinade. And, this time, I used sauerkraut with jalapenos made by Wegmans and it was just enough spice. So good.
Lara Beranek says
These were an absolute hit for our vegan dinner night with our adult son and his wife. I marinated the tempeh overnight so it was very flavorful. My husband and I used Swiss cheese on ours. The kids used vegan mozzarella (the store was out of Swiss). So good!!
Rachel Recknagel says
Yeah. That hit the spot. Really good marinade for the tempeh and i adjusted the Swiss cheese recipe but it still was great. I look forward to having this for lunch for the next few days. Maybe I could have this every day forever, it’s that good.
This is the best marinade and Russian dressing recipe ever! I substitute wheat roast for the tempeh and it's delicious!
I followed directions except for using regular Worcester sauce, vegan smoked provolone (couldn’t find Swiss), and onion powder instead of minced onion in the Russian Dressing. Also fir bread used German Farm bread as my store didn’t have the Alvarado rye. Wow! This was so delicious and overall flavor profile very Ruebenesque. This recipe is a keeper- also really liked the “Russian” dressing.
Emily R says
These are AMAZING!!! Just made them for the first time tonight, will definitely be on the dinner menu regularly!?
These have become one of our favorites! Easy and filling and sooooo flipping tasty!
kate cofrancesco says
This recipe exceeded by expectations. I will definitely make again. The only thing would do differently, is make half of the dressing called for in the recipe, otherwise, no changes!
Rachel Quinn says
Amazing. Such a simple recipe, I never expected to be so blown away. I used Daiya provolone slices (because I couldn't find swiss) and I used a regular pan instead of a cast iron, it still was perfect. Sitting here staring at my empty plate in disbelief. 12/10 would make a million times over.
These are SO delish! Even my meat loving 17 year old son is happy when I make these sandwiches. We have been eating them regularly since first trying the recipe. So nice to have a vegan meal my whole family enjoys! Thank you!!
Rachel E Jones says
Wow!! This recipe is so good we have eaten it 3 days in a row! I live in western Michigan and now I'm wondering what restaurant you worked at so I can eat there ?
Suzanne Smalligan says
Was it Bartertown? Oh how I miss that place.