Radical reuben recipe from Chicago Diner (2024)

Published: · Modified: by Cadry Nelson
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Hold onto your hats. Today I’m sharing the vegan reuben sandwich recipe from the Chicago Diner cookbook.

This is a sandwich worth driving hours to obtain. But now you don’t have to! Loaded with marinated seitan, sauerkraut, and dressing, it’s jam-packed with flavor. Vegan comfort food at its best.

Radical reuben recipe from Chicago Diner (1)

My first stop in Chicago tends to be to the same place – Chicago Diner. With a 31 year history and two locations, it is a mainstay of the Windy City.

Their menu is loaded with cozy comfort foods, hearty breakfasts, and their world-famousvegan reuben sandwich. (It’s the highlight to any Chicago trip!)

Loaded with chewy seitan, crisp sauerkraut, and creamy Thousand Island dressing, it ticks all of my must haves for that diner classic.

And I’m going to be sharing that vegan reuben sandwich recipe with you today! But more on that in just a bit…

In this post:

Jump to:
  • Chicago Diner cookbook
  • A few things I’ve made:
  • Vegan Reuben sandwich
  • Can I freeze the seitan?
  • 📖 Recipe

Chicago Diner cookbook

I was so excited when I heard that the folks at the Chicago Diner were coming out with a new cookbook with lots of color photos and enticing recipes.

The New Chicago Diner Cookbookby Jo A. Kaucher withKat Barry celebrates so much of what makes the Chicago Diner great.

(This new cookbook is completely different from the Chicago Diner Cookbookthat was released in 2002.)

There are recipes for vegan proteins and fillings, brunch, entertaining, salads, dressings, and condiments, soups and sandwiches, entrees, vegetables and side dishes, and desserts.

While the Chicago Diner is a vegetarian restaurant, all of the recipes in the cookbook are vegan.

A few things I’ve made:

Radical reuben recipe from Chicago Diner (2)
Radical reuben recipe from Chicago Diner (3)

This creamy cashew pesto dip is in the entertaining section.

I served it with crackers and crudités for an easy summer dinner. This spread is cashew-based and filled with mounds and mounds of fresh basil.

For 2 cups of raw cashews, you combine it with 9 ½ cups of basil. That’s a lot of basil!

In the variations, they offer the idea of substituting half of the basil for spinach for a less pronounced basil flavor.

For dip purposes, I will probably do that next time. However, I used the remaining spread as a sauce for hot pasta, and it was wonderfully creamy and fragrant.

Radical reuben recipe from Chicago Diner (4)
Radical reuben recipe from Chicago Diner (5)

This summer I have been gravitating towards a lot of quick, no fuss lunches. One that I’ve been coming back to again and again is eggless (tofu) salad.

I usuallymake it with just a few ingredients – tofu, Vegenaise, and kala namak. So I was interested in trying the Chicago Diner version with this eggless salad wrap.

Their version includes everything that I put in mine plus celery, parsley, green onion, dill pickles, mustard, turmeric, and sunflower seeds.

I’d never added toasted sunflower seeds to a tofu salad before. It added a wonderfully nutty crunch that I really liked.

I reduced the amount of Vegenaise in the recipe by about half, because I prefer a less mayo-heavy sandwich.

It took less thanten minutes to make, and it was absolutely delicious. This will definitely be my preferredrecipe from now on.

Vegan Reuben sandwich

Radical reuben recipe from Chicago Diner (6)

Finally, the crème de la crème – the Radical Reuben.

This vegan reuben sandwich was the reason I was most excited for this cookbook. It did not disappoint.

Even though a person can make a vegan reuben sandwich with any number of toothsome fillings like tofu, tempeh, or Portobello mushrooms, it is chewy seitan that makes a reuben irresistible to me.

This is a sandwich that doesn’t need any sides. It is super filling, and it has it all – sautéed onions, bell peppers, a layer of sauerkraut, and their signature corned beef-style seitan.

(The recipe also calls for vegan mozzarella. But I left that out.)

There is a recipe for seitan in the book. But it requires a stand mixer with paddle attachment, which I don’t have. When you make the recipe below, use your own preferred seitan with the listed marinade or my seitan chicken.

The seitan is marinated in the Corned “Beef” Marinade. It’s the marinade that really brings the sandwich to life.

With a base of pickle juice, beet juice, and seasonings, the tart, salty flavor pops. It’s the beet juice that gives the seitan itsvibrant, hot pink color.

The vegan reuben sandwich rivals the one I’ve had many times at Chicago Diner. And you don’t even have to find parking!

Can I freeze the seitan?

Yes, seitan freezes beautifully.

I am the only reuben lover in our house. So after eating a couple of sandwiches, I froze the rest of the marinated seitan in individual portions.

Bread also freezes well. So I froze the rest of the rye bread too.

This has been kind of magical. Now whenever I have a vegan reuben sandwich emergency, I have everything at hand.

I just quickly thaw the seitan in the microwave, sauté it, toast the bread, and pull out my favorite sauerkraut.

I can have a reuben in less than 15 minutes. It’s a beautiful thing.

I am so excited that the folks at Agate Publishinghave kindly offered for me to share the Radical Reuben sandwich recipe with you today!

I hope you’re hungry. You are going to love it.

Radical reuben recipe from Chicago Diner (7)

If you try this recipe and love it, let me know! Leave a comment and ⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating in the comment section below. It truly makes my day and is such a help!

📖 Recipe

Radical reuben recipe from Chicago Diner (8)

The Radical Reuben

Author: Jo A. Kaucher

5 from 3 votes

The Radical Reuben is our most popular dish. It took home the Vegetarian Times Magazine Readers’ Choice Award for Best Recipe in the Midwest in June 2008 and was also featured on TLC’s “Best Food Ever: Darn Good Diners” show. Basically, this sandwich rocks, and now you can make it right in your own kitchen!

Print Pin Rate

Servings: 4 people

Course: Sandwich

Cuisine: American, Vegan

Keyword: chicago diner, comfort food


For the Corned “Beef” Marinade:

  • 1 cup pickle juice
  • ¾ cup beet juice Juice from a jar of pickled beets works fine
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon caraway seed
  • ½ teaspoon dried dill weed
  • ¼ teaspoon fennel seed
  • dash dry ground mustard
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound seitan

For the Thousand Island Sauce:

  • ¼ cup vegan mayonnaise Vegenaise
  • 3 Tablespoons organic ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped dill pickles

For the Reubens:

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • ½ cup sliced yellow onion
  • ¼ cup sliced red bell pepper
  • ¼ cup sliced green bell pepper
  • 1 ⅓ cups sauerkraut
  • 8 slices marble rye bread
  • 1 pound Seitan Corned “Beef” See marinade recipe above
  • 1 cup shredded vegan mozzarella cheese Chicago Diner uses Daiya brand for this sandwich


To make the marinade:

  • In a large mixing bowl, mix all of the ingredients together until fully combined.

  • Slice 1 pound of seitan thinly. Place it in a large, shallow baking dish. Pour the marinade over the seitan and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.

To make the Sauce:

  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients. Set aside.

To make the Reubens:

  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and peppers and sauté for 7 to 9 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Remove from the heat and transfer the onion and peppers to a medium covered bowl. Set aside.

  • Place the sauerkraut in the skillet and return it to the heat. Warm it in the skillet for 5 minutes, until it is warmed through. Remove from the heat and transfer the sauerkraut to a medium bowl. Cover the bowl and set aside.

  • Toast the bread. Place the Seitan Corned “Beef” in the skillet and return it to the heat. Warm it in the skillet for 5 to 7 minutes, until it is warmed through and a little brown on the edges. Remove from the heat and set aside.

  • Place 4 of the toasted bread slices on a serving platter. Divide the Seitan Corned “Beef” evenly among the 4 slices.

  • Atop each pile of Seitan Corned “Beef,” layer ¼ of the sauerkraut, the pepper-onion mix, the vegan mozzarella cheese, and the Thousand Island Sauce. Top each sandwich half with the remaining 4 slices of bread. Slice each sandwich in half and serve immediately.


Reprinted with permission from The New Chicago Diner Cookbook by Jo A. Kaucher, Agate Surrey December 2013.

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Calories: 654kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 55g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 14mg | Potassium: 300mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 395IU | Vitamin C: 28.5mg | Calcium: 92mg | Iron: 5.9mg

Disclosure: I received this cookbook for review from Agate Publishing. The thoughts and opinions are totally my own.

More Sandwiches & wraps

  • Vegan bagel breakfast sandwich
  • Vegan bánh mì sandwich
  • Vegan egg in a hole with Just Egg
  • Salt roasted carrot lox (vegan smoked salmon)

About Cadry Nelson

Cadry Nelson is the writer, recipe creator, and photographer behind Cadry’s Kitchen. She's also the author of Living Vegan For Dummies, 2nd edition. Cadry loves sharing vegan comfort food classics that come together quickly. Her work has been featured on NBC News, Mashable, Yahoo, Buzzfeed, Parade, Huffington Post, VegNews, and Vegan Food & Living.

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  1. Tara

    Radical reuben recipe from Chicago Diner (13)
    The Reuben from Chicago diner is one of my boyfriend’s favorite foods so it was so fun trying to recreate it :)! It tasted so delicious 🙂 thank you for the wonderful recipe !


    • Cadry Nelson

      I’m so glad to hear that! Thanks for letting me know, Tara!


  2. Randi @ Laughfrodisiac

    How did I miss this?!!!! CANNOT WAIT TO MAKE.


    • Cadry

      Yay! I hope you post pics on Instagram. Such a good sandwich!


  3. Meg

    Radical reuben recipe from Chicago Diner (14)
    I already had some leftover seitan so I made your marinade and the Thousand Island Dressing. And it was outSTANDING. So delicious! We made Reubens a few nights ago, and even my carnivore dad loved these sandwiches (we used homemade fresh mozzarella — yum yum). A few days later I snacked on some of the leftover slices and its even better — so garlicky and flavorful, and honestly what I remember actual corned beef tasting like. We’re going to experiment making corned veef (that’s what we call it — veef!) hash some time this week. Thanks for the *perfect* vegan reuben marinade!


    • Cadry

      That’s great, Meg! I’m so glad it was a hit. I hope you enjoyed your hash too! Thanks for the great feedback!


  4. Leslie

    I’m experimenting today with this recipe tweaked slightly using Native Forest Organic Jackfruit in brine. If it works out, this could be a gluten free, soy free, alternative for those who cannot have Tempeh or Seitan like one of my daughters. I’ll try to remember to get back with you as to how it turns out. I totally agree with everyone that loves Chicago Diner’s Reuben. I cannot go to Chicago without stopping at one of their locations and even though other items look and sound good, I haven’t been able to resist getting the reuben every time. Last time my husband (non-vegan) tried it but with regular dairy cheese and couldn’t believe he wasn’t eating meat.


    • Cadry

      That’s a great idea, Leslie! The marinade is so delicious, and it seems like it would be well-matched with jackfruit. Let me know how it goes!


  5. Ceara @ Ceara's Kitchen

    I am seriously drooling at this reuben!! What a classic!!!


  6. Dianne

    A trip to Chicago is not currently in my future, so I need this cookbook.


    • Cadry

      Maybe we can meet up there someday! 😀


  7. Trinity Bourne

    My mouth is really watering! This all looks out of this world…. yum!


    • Cadry

      In terms of deliciousness, a seitan reuben is hard to beat!


  8. Becky Striepe

    Ooh I bet the beet juice makes the marinade nice and sweet without any added sugar.


    • Cadry

      Exactly, and it gives it that vibrant color! Even though I’m not generally a beet fan, it works well here.


  9. Jenn

    Would you believe I have never been to the Chicago Diner?! I know….so crazy! I MUST get their soon. It’s just that drive into the city can be so brutal sometimes. But, this sandwich looks amazing! My hubs would love it…he’s a huge reuben fan!


    • Cadry

      Oh, my gosh, Jenn! You need to get there. And the drive is no excuse! I’ve driven 3 1/2 hours to get there MANY TIMES. Make it happen ASAP. Your husband is going to go nuts for it. 😀


  10. Christine

    I live in london Ontario and have no clue where to purchase Seitan. Do you have any ideas?


    • Cadry

      I make seitan from scratch using a flour called Vital Wheat Gluten. It’s sold in natural food stores or online. If you’d rather buy prepared seitan, look for a kind that comes in slices like Field Roast deli slices. Those would be in the refrigerated section of your natural grocery store.


  11. Mae

    This is fantastic! As I mentioned before, I have jars of homemade sauerkraut and pickled beets that I’ve been picking my brain for ways to use..I also just bought The Cheesy Vegan, and have been hoping to make something from it soon! There is a mozzarella cheese recipe that can be sliced and shredded. This reuben recipe has it all! Thanks so much for sharing! I’ll probably be making this tonight or tomorrow. I’ll let you know how it comes out!


    • Cadry

      Yes, definitely let me know! I’m wagering that you’ll love it!


  12. Bianca

    Radical reuben recipe from Chicago Diner (15)
    I LOVE this recipe! I made it awhile back, and that marinade is fantastic! I also had lots of seitan leftover but I froze mine too. I ordered the reuben when I was at Chicago Diner last August. But Paul ordered the chicken fried steak, and OMG, I think that was my fave! Also, love the poutine!


    • Cadry

      I had the chicken fried steak at a brunch there a year or so ago, and I remember being full for hours and hours afterwards. It was definitely delicious and very hearty! I still haven’t tried the poutine, but I need to go with another diner who’s into gravy. David is not into gravy at all, and so it would be nice to have someone with whom to share!


  13. acookinthemaking

    OMG Cadry!! I am going to Chicago in two weeks for the first time and I already couldn’t wait to go to the Chicago Diner, but now I’m more excited than ever! I definitely plan to order the legendary Radical Reuben when I’m there. Now I can also look forward to recreating it when I get back!


    • Cadry

      Oh, how fun for you! You’re going to have a great time. There are all kinds of wonderful places to eat in Chicago. I hope you’ll have the time to check a few of them out!


  14. An Unrefined Vegan

    Another must-visit restaurant – but in the meantime, how cool to be able to make their recipes at home! Especially that incredible, mile-high reuben!


    • Cadry

      Yes, I make it to Chicago a few times a year, but it’s nice to have the option of having a seitan reuben anytime! I so wish that a restaurant in our area would offer a seitan reuben. We have two that sell tempeh reubens, but it’s just not the same.


  15. Shell

    I’m a reuben fan, too! Your homemade creation looks delicious!


    • Cadry

      Thanks, Shell! As I was working on this post yesterday, I had to pull out the fixings from my freezer and refrigerator and make another. One of the risks of writing about food is that you want to eat it all over again! 😀


  16. Becky

    Oh man, I want this book! That reuben looks delicious. I love a non-tempeh reuben!


    • Cadry

      Me too! I’m all about seitan when it comes to the reuben.


  17. Lauren

    My husband had the opportunity to go to the Chicago Diner when he was there on a business trip – he isn’t vegan but went there anyway so he could tell me all about it. 🙂 I definitely hope one day we make the trip out there together to try it!! The reuben looks delicious – but the mozzarella sticks would be fabulous to try.


    • Cadry

      That’s so sweet that your husband visited Chicago Diner just so that he could tell you about it. Oftentimes my husband takes pictures of his meals for me on business trips because he knows that I like seeing that kind of thing.

      I tried mozzarella sticks at their restaurant the first time I ever went during the brief period that Teese was selling them frozen. However, I haven’t seen them since that first visit. I don’t think they sell them anymore, unfortunately.


  18. Kate

    I have dreams about this sandwich, you made my day by sharing this recipe. Is your go-to seitan recipe already cooked with spices? My standby is the one from the “Linda’s Ginger Chicken” recipe from How It All Vegan, which uses plenty of poultry spice. Since it’s going to marinate in the corned beef sauce maybe I should cut down or eliminate the cooking broth and just cook it in something basic like veggie stock? CANNOT wait to try this out.


    • Cadry

      That’s a great question, Kate! I looked at the seitan recipe in the Chicago Diner cookbook that is specifically for this recipe, and they use lots of spices in it. They call for onion powder, dried mixed herbs of your choice, celery salt, garlic powder, and pepper. Then they boil the seitan with vegetables one would typically use in making stock. So I think you could definitely still use poultry spice and cooking broth when you’re making the seitan, and it wouldn’t overpower the subsequent corned beef marinade.

      In the recipe from Viva Vegan that I use, it calls for thyme, paprika, and cumin. I didn’t feel like those flavors competed with the marinade. They just added some background flavor.


  19. Mary Ellen@Health.Balance.Happpiness

    I’ve only been to Chicago once but I was fortunate enough to make it to the Chicago Diner. I still dream of the poutine (French fry, gravy, and cheese dish) and the vegan Ruben. Thanks so much for the review and recipe. I’ve never made my own seitan before but I might try it for my husband’s birthday. I think I’ll be keeping the whole cookbook soon!


    • Cadry

      I haven’t had the poutine yet, but everyone raves about it! Good luck with the seitan. I was intimidated the first time I made it, but it’s really not difficult. I make it fairly regularly now. It’s basically just dough. I find steaming recipes (instead of boiling or baking) to be the easiest and most fool-proof.


  20. Kris

    Love the Chicago Diner! Now please tell me how to make the Thai Chili Wings and my life will be perfect!


    • Cadry

      I’ve never had the Thai Chili Wings. I’ll have to remedy that the next time I’m in Chicago!


  21. thepeacepatch

    That pesto is just captivating…I want to rip off chunks of fresh Italian bread and dip it all up! I’ve got to check this book out…I’ve heard it has a Buddha’s Karma Burger that’s superdelicious and their milkshake too!
    Thanks for sharing the reuben recipe…that’s one giant stack of yum! 🙂


    • Cadry

      That’s good to know about Buddha’s Karma Burger. I’ll have to check that recipe out!


Radical reuben recipe from Chicago Diner (2024)


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