Kickass Vegan Reuben on Rye

vegan reuben sandwich

Whenever we’re in Chicago, we will go out of our way to cross town for the plant-based Reuben at Chicago Diner. It’s what dreams are made of. Crisp seitan, creamy Russian dressing, earthy rye bread, spunky sauerkraut, and soft cheese: we just can’t get enough. Here’s our version of this comfort food. This is your home-on-Sunday-with-nothing-to-do sandwich. Eat one (or two), flop on the couch, and embrace naptime.



  • 2 1/4 cups (270 g) vital wheat gluten
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) chickpea flour
  • 1/4 cup (20 g) nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped (140 g) peeled red beets
  • 1 1/2 cups (350 ml) vegetable stock
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) dry sherry
  • 3 tablespoons tamari
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Spray oil

Coriander Spice Mix

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons coconut sugar or brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons granulated onion
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Caramelized Onions

  • 1 tablespoon everyday olive oil
  • 2 onions, sliced paper thin
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sriracha Russian Dressing

  • 3/4 cup (170 g) plant-based mayo, such as Wicked Kitchen Garlic Mayo with Caramelized Onion
  • 1/4 cup (35 g) finely chopped dill pickles
  • 2 tablespoons sriracha
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • 1 tablespoon everyday olive oil
  • 1 cup (140 g) sauerkraut
  • 6 to 8 slices plant-based cheese, such as Field Roast Chao
  • 12 slices dark rye bread, lightly toasted or grilled


  1. For the seitan: Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the wheat gluten, chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper.
  3. Put the beets, stock, sherry, tamari, tomato paste, and maple syrup in a blender (preferably high-speed), and blend until very smooth. The consistency will be somewhat thick, like a smoothie.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the blended mixture. Mix well by hand, making sure everything is fully blended together. You’ll end up with somewhat stiff dough with the consistency of Play-Doh. Set aside.
  5. For the spice mix, toast the coriander, caraway, and mustard seed in a dry pan over medium heat until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes, shaking the pan now and then. Let cool slightly, then grind in a mortar and pestle or clean coffee mill to a somewhat coarse grind.
  6. Coat 2 large pieces of heavy-duty foil with spray oil and set aside.
  7. Roll and stretch the seitan dough to create a log-shaped loaf about 10 inches (25 cm) long and 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter. The dough will be stiff; just keep working it to create that shape. Transfer the loaf to the foil and coat all over with the spice mix, rolling the loaf in the foil for even coating. Roll up the seitan in the foil and wrap it in a tight cylinder. Twist the ends like a Tootsie Roll, then fold in the ends. Make sure it’s wrapped tight to keep the seitan from expanding during baking.
  8. Place the seitan roll on a baking sheet and bake until it’s extremely firm, 80 to 90 minutes, turning the roll every 15 to 20 minutes for even cooking. Test the doneness by squeezing it with tongs. The seitan should feel very stiff, like it will be an effort to slice.
  9. Let cool completely in the foil. If you’re in a rush, pop it in the fridge. This is an important step because the seitan will expand and loosen up if you remove it from the foil before cooling. (Weird, right?!)
  10. Once fully cooled, the loaf will firm up even more. At that point, you can slice it thin for sandwiches or dice it and brown it for tacos or bowls, or whatever you like. For these Reubens, shave a little more than half the seitan into paper-thin slices. (Wrap the leftover seitan and chill for a week or two, or freeze it a month or so.)
  11. For the caramelized onions: Heat a large deep sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil, then the onions, and cook for a minute or two. Cut the heat to medium low, cover the pan, and cook, stirring often, until the onions are deeply browned, 15 to 20 minutes. To prevent burning, add a splash of water now and then, scraping up browned glaze from the pan bottom. Season with salt and pepper, and remove the caramelized onions to a plate.
  12. For the Russian dressing: Mix everything together in a small bowl. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 week.
  13. To assemble each sandwich: Heat the same pan over medium-high heat. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of the remaining oil, then a handful of the shaved seitan. Cook until the seitan is nice and crisp all over, tossing now and then for even browning. Use a spatula to scrape the seitan into a small pile that will fit the bread.
  14. Plop a few tablespoons each of caramelized onion and sauerkraut next to the seitan in the pan to warm up. When hot, layer the onions on the kraut, then layer the kraut on the seitan in the pan. Top with a slice of cheese. Add a splash of water to the pan, cover with a lid, and let sit until the cheese melts.
  15. Lather up 2 slices the toasted rye with Russian dressing. Using a spatula, place the pile of deliciousness on one slice of the bread. Spoon a bit more dressing on top and cover with another bread slice.
  16. Grab some paper towels and stuff your face as you slowly fade into a food coma.


*Recipe adapted from The Wicked Healthy Cookbook by Chad Sarno, Derek Sarno, and David Joachim. Check out the book here!

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