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How to Cook Corned Beef for Reuben Sandwiches

Oven-braising is a great way to cook corned beef for the classic Reuben sandwich without boiling out all the flavor.
Course Sandwich
Cuisine American
Keyword beef, corned, corned beef, russian dressing, rye bread
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Servings 4 sandwiches
Calories 451kcal


  • Wire rack
  • Paper towels
  • Small brush
  • Sharp knife
  • 9x11 baking pan
  • Large skillet.


  • 3.5 pounds corned beef brisket with spice packet
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard regular or grainy
  • Water


Prepare corned beef

  • Remove brisket from package in the sink. Place a wire rack in sink.
  • Remove spice packet. Rinse the juices from the spice packet and set aside. Turn on cold water.
  • Lay the brisket on the wire rack. Thoroughly rinse brisket in cold running water. Turn the brisket over and repeat.
  • Pat dry, leaving fat cap intact.

Prepping the corned beef

  • Remove brisket from sink. Trim off any connective tissue on flesh side.
  • Leave the fat cap intact. and brush that side with Dijon mustard.
  • Turn the brisket over and brush the flesh side with Dijon mustard.
  • Sprinkle the spices from the packet on both sides.
  • Place the brisket in a baking pan. I used a 9x11 glass baking dish. Add a little water to come up about ½" in the baking dish.

Braising the corned beef

  • Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 320 degrees for two hours.
  • Remove the meat and check the internal temperature. Corned beef must be at least 145 degrees for safe eating, but collagen and fat do not begin to dissolve until the temp reaches 190 degrees. The meat is safe to eat, but needs more time to tenderize.
  • At this time you may find that the fat cap is beginning to shrink, causing the meat to curl. Use a sharp knife to cut through the fat cap from side to side in a couple of places. This should release the fat, allowing the beef to maintain a flat shape. Keep the fat cap in place, just score it. You will remove it later but for now it will keep the meat from drying out.
  • Flip the meat with the fat cap down, cover with foil and return to oven. Continue checking for desired tenderness every 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove from oven to a cutting board when tender and discard liquid.
  • Use a sharp knife to remove the fat cap. Discard the fat cap.
  • Cut a small piece of meat off the end and taste for saltiness. Oftentimes the meat will be too salty for your liking at this point.
  • If the meat is too salty, bring enough water to almost cover the corned beef to a slow boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Place the corned beef in simmering water for 5 minutes. Take the meat out and taste again. If it is still too salty, return it for another five minutes.
  • If perfect, allow to cool before slicing. To get perfect tender slices you need to slice AGAINST the grain of the meat.
  • Notice the way the grain of the meat runs in the picture. You will see that when I slice it, I slice it against the grain, not in the direction of the grain. 

Making the Reuben

  • Butter one side of each slice of bread and place it, butter side down, in a skillet over medium-low heat.
  • Cover one side with a slice to two of Swiss cheese and the other side with the sliced corned beef. Pile it as high as you like.
  • When the cheese melts and the meat heated through remove from heat. Top with my Reuben Sauce or Russian dressing. You can add sauerkraut or coleslaw if you like or serve them on the side. Lay a spear of kosher dill pickle alongside the sandwich and serve hot.


Nutritional Note: The nutritional data is calculated the cooked weight of the meat which is slightly more than half the raw weight. The bread, condiments, and cheese are NOT included in the calculation due to personal preference variables.
My Reuben Sauce Recipe


Serving: 1sandwich | Calories: 451kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 16g | Cholesterol: 122mg | Sodium: 2801mg | Potassium: 679mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 3IU | Vitamin C: 61mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 4mg