Fish Reuben Sandwich with Homemade Russian Dressing

I have a new favorite sandwich, and it’s this Fish Reuben

Easy Homemade Russian Dressing

I’ve always loved a well-made Reuben – with the tangy sauerkraut, gooey cheese, and sweet, creamy dressing, what’s not to love? It’s not something I order or have regularly, but when I do, it’s pretty much a given that every single morsel, including every last bit of Russian dressing that’s fallen to the wayside will be devoured.

To me, a reuben is not something I’d classify as beach food by any means. However, when I was watching some Cooking Channel show with Katie Lee, and they visited a beachside restaurant known for their snapper reubens, it made total sense to swap out the more classically known protein, pastrami, for a perfectly cooked piece of fish.

And now, I’m not sure I can ever eat the original version again.

Fish Reuben Sandwich with Homemade Russian Dressing

While I’m sure red snapper is delicious, I prefer a heartier fish that can stand up to the heavy hand of sauerkraut, cheese and dressing I slather the bread with. For me, this was halibut because it’s what my grocery store had in stock, but mahi mahi, swordfish, or even tuna would be a great substitute; however, if you have the choice, go with the halibut.

So before I did anything with the fish, I made a homemade Russian dressing, something I haven’t tackled before. I always thought Russian dressing and Thousand Island dressing were one in the same, but after a little bit of research, I found that while they are similar, there are a few notable differences in the two. For one, Russian dressing is a little more pungent, since it includes horseradish. Two, Thousand Island dressing is made with ketchup, and Russian dressing is classically made with chili sauce. Three, Russian dressing has a couple of additional savory ingredients like lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce, that Thousand Island lacks. I happen to love a hint of horseradish, so my dressing leans more towards the Russian side, but I also used ketchup since it’s what I had on hand. For simplicity purposes, I’m just going to go ahead and call this Russian dressing. Cool?

Fish Reuben Sandwich with Homemade Russian Dressing

Of course, a reuben isn’t complete without a little bit of sauerkraut, a generous hand of nutty swiss cheese (I used a gruyere and swiss Trader Joe’s combo), and traditional rye bread. A little note on the bread, to keep the sandwich from getting soggy, I first butter the inside, and toast it before putting the sandwich together, to create a sturdy barrier for the dressing to lie against.

Once everything gets piles together, it’s cooked until the cheese is oozing out the sides, and the other side of the toast is golden brown and crisp.

Grab a few napkins before digging in, because things are going to get messy.

Fish Reuben Sandwich with Homemade Russian Dressing

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Fish Reuben Sandwich with Homemade Russian Dressing
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A classic reuben sandwich gets a tropical update by replacing the pastrami for a perfectly cooked piece of fish.
Serves: 4 sandwiches
  • 6 Tlbs. Softened butter (unsalted or salted)
  • 8 slices rye bread
  • 4 (6 oz.) filets of halibut
  • 1 Tlbs. olive oil
  • 1 cup sauerkraut
  • 8 ounces shredded gruyere or swiss cheese
Russian Dressing
  • ½ cup reduced-fat mayo
  • 3 Tlbs. ketchup
  • 2 Tlbs. Sour cream
  • 3 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 Tlbs. Minced onion
  • 1 ½ tsp. horseradish
Make the dressing
  1. In a bowl, combine mayo, ketchup, sour cream, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, salt, onion, and horseradish. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Make the sandwich
  1. Spread half of butter on bread slices. Heat a large non-stick skillet to a medium heat. Add bread, butter-side down. Toast until golden brown. Set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil to a medium heat in the same large non-stick skillet. Season halibut generously with salt and pepper. Add fish to the pan, and cook until golden brown on both sides and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side.
  3. While the fish cooks, start putting sandwiches together. Spread dressing on all of the toasted sides of the bread. Evenly divide cheese between four of the pieces of bread. Evenly divide the sauerkraut on the other half of the bread. Place the fish on top of the sauerkraut, and then top with other half of bread (the cheese bread).
  4. Spread half of the remaining butter on top piece of bread. Heat the same pan you cooked the fish in to a medium heat. Working in batches, place sandwiches butter-side down in the hot skillet. Spread the unbuttered side with butter. Toast sandwiches until golden brown and crisp on both sides, and the cheese has melted.

Fish Reuben Sandwich with Homemade Russian Dressing

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