This casserole is one of the most iconic meals served at my in-laws’ house. I had never heard of such a dish before marrying my husband, but over the years I’ve come to appreciate why it is such a favorite. It is exactly what is sounds like – a Rueben sandwich in the form of a casserole – and it is delightful. Each bite holds rich corned beef and tangy sauerkraut, layered amongst toasted rye bread cubes and tied together with Thousand Island dressing before being topped with Swiss cheese. Is it “healthy”? Goodness no – but it’s it’s good for the soul and a wonderful meal with which to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.Jump to Recipe
We make this casserole almost every March, though some years it makes an appearance at other family holidays (sometimes Easter, often on birthdays, and one time even on Christmas) due to its popularity in our family.
This recipe requires fairly simple ingredients. While I recommend using aged Swiss slices and shredded Swiss/Gruyere mix, any mildly flavored cheese will suffice. One big change I made to this recipe that made a huge difference: preparing my own corned beef instead of buying it from the deli counter. Is this time-consuming extra step necessary? Absolutely not – the very nature of a casserole is to lend moisture to even the driest of deli meats, and this casserole is awesome regardless of the source of your protein. However, using home-cooked corned beef vastly improved the flavor of this recipe, and I’ll probably take that extra step to make this casserole every time I see corned beef discounted in our grocery’s meat department.
Start this recipe by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F and cutting 8 slices of rye bread into cubes. The brand you use doesn’t matter – I went shopping in early March and bought the only variety of rye available – as long as it gives you a nice, robust caraway flavor.
Once your rye has been sliced into cubes, arrange it on a baking sheet (in a single layer, if possible) and toast it for 5 minutes. Remove it from the oven, stir, and return to the oven for an additional 3 minutes. The bread should be gently toasted but not too crunchy. What’s the point of this step? Toasting the rye will increase its ability to soak in the flavors of the rest of your casserole – and, more crucially, it will prevent the bread from getting soggy. After your bread has been toasted, increase your oven temperature to 400 degrees F and start assembling your casserole. Grease a 9” by 13” baking dish and sprinkle half to two-thirds of your rye cubes along the length of the dish.
Next layer in half of each your corned beef and sauerkraut. Drizzle 1/2 cup of Thousand Island dressing over the sauerkraut before covering with your six slices of aged Swiss cheese. (You are welcome to use normal Swiss cheese and/or the shredded form, but this aged Swiss is a wise choice if you can swing it. The aging of the cheese lends itself to more complex flavors for the dish. Using slices instead of shreds helps to separate the casserole into more distinct layers.)
Once you have added the cheese, repeat the process with your remaining toasted rye cubes, corned beef, and Thousand Island dressing. Top the entire casserole with half of the shredded Swiss – mixed with Gruyere, if you can find it, but again, basic Swiss works fine here. Either way, don’t snack on that leftover shredded Swiss just yet!
Cover the casserole with a “tent” of aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the foil and top with remaining shredded Swiss before baking for a final 5 minutes. Finally, your casserole is finished!
Serve this casserole hot. We like to enjoy ours with a glass of draught Guinness or any beverage dyed green.
I hope you enjoy this recipe! If you try it at home, please tag @WhiskAverseBaking on social media, or leave a message in the comments below.
- 8 slices rye bread
- 1 cup Thousand Island dressing
- 1 pound deli-style corned beef sliced
- 16 oz. sauerkraut drained
- 6 slices aged Swiss
- 1 cup shredded Swiss & Gruyere cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9″ x13” casserole dish and set aside.
- Cut rye bread into cubes. Place on a baking sheet and toast in the oven; bake for 5 minutes, stir, and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Once you have removed the bread from the oven, increase temperature to 400 degrees F.
- Layer ½ to ⅔ of your bread, meat, and sauerkraut before covering with half of your dressing. Top with 6 slices of aged Swiss. Layer the remaining ingredients and sprinkle with ½ cup of shredded cheese.
- Cover casserole with tented aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with remaining ½ cup of cheese, and bake for 5 additional minutes before serving.
- Serve hot.