Reuben vs. Rachel

Last Updated on June 15th, 2023

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Throughout history, food creations have borrowed certain elements and ingredients from other recipes and chefs. 

For example, since the advent of the sandwich, which has been part of human culture for longer than history records.

The earliest written account comes from around the first century B.C. when The Haggadah recounted when Hillel (A Rabbi) made sandwiches with lamb, herbs, and matzoh bread. 

Later, in more recent history, a man by the name of Edward Gibbon coined the word “Sandwich” when he saw men eating cold meat inside pieces of bread in 1762. 

Then, around 1900, sandwiches began accumulating different names for the ingredients used, giving rise to the specialty sandwiches we enjoy today. 

What are the Similarities?

This leads us to the Reuben and Rachel specialty sandwiches, which have many similarities starting with the use of Rye bread, specifically Russian. The flavor and texture of the bread are a perfect complement to the meats and slaw used in each of these sandwich types. 

The next similarity to point out is the use of Swiss cheese, which can be the difference maker when it comes to completing the flavor profile of these sandwiches. 

Then to finish the taste equation, using a griddle-like surface, the sandwiches are toasted to prevent any soggy bread from spoiling the eating experience. 


What are the Differences?

The easiest way to tell these two sandwiches apart is to look inside the two slices of bread. 

As mentioned above, there is going to be a use of the same types of bread, sauces, and cheeses, but when it comes to the meats and slaw, there could not be more of a contrasting set of flavors. 

In the Reuben, the sandwich recipe calls for the use of corned beef and sauerkraut topped with a slice of Swiss and griddle toasted to perfection. 

However, when it comes to a Rachel sandwich, the meat is substituted with slices of pastrami (or a similar cut of meat), and the sauerkraut gets replaced with coleslaw. 


Pros and Cons: Reuben vs. Rachel

To begin this topic, let us first think about the flavors that are used, and the pro for a Rachel sandwich will be how easy it is to make coleslaw. 

This taste sauerkraut substitute allows for a certain amount of creativity when introducing flavors to your Rachel, but when it comes to the con will be how much coleslaw moves around in the sandwich, which can make it difficult to eat. 

The con for the Reuben will be the intense flavor that comes with corned beef and sauerkraut, and this can be too much for some.

Which leads us to the pro, this is one of the most recognizable types of sandwiches in the world and provides such a unique experience that it must be tried once. 


Which one is Easier to Prepare?

This comes down to personal abilities, as each sandwich is not the easiest to get right. There are many complex flavors to consider when you work with corned beef or sauerkraut, but also when you use coleslaw paired with good, sliced meat. 

Therefore, it comes down to technique and following recipes that will provide proper amounts. Here we find that most chefs have a single step for Reubens and require more for Rachel. 

Therefore needing to nitpick to find a difference will be the deciding factor determining victory. In short, Rachel requires a few more steps to get every flavor and texture right. 


Which one is More Versatile?

There is not going to be much of a difference when it comes to the versatility of these two sandwich types, and each will have a notorious reputation for being a messy meal. 

This is because the sauerkraut and coleslaw elements are wet, loose in nature, and slippery when trying to bite down. 

Yet, when it comes to flavor pairing, there are going to be more meat options when it comes to Rachel. Still, Corned beef has a natural flavor pairing with good red wine and various other beverages, including a good Rye IPA. 


Final Thoughts on Reuben vs. Rachel 

As you decide whether to make yourself a Reuben or a Rachel, remember that each has a unique flavor palette and should be tried once if food allergies allow. The Reuben has more of a popping tart with a nice brown sugar sweetness from the corned beef. 

The Rachel sandwiches best attribute will be the ability to choose any sliced meats, but most will use pastrami, but I have seen recipes that use turkey, with a personal set of seasonings cooked into them. 

If you have a solid delicatessen within reach, consider speaking with them about these two sandwiches. 


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