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Feeling like our Thursday needs a sandwich.

Healthier Tempeh Reuben | @hbharvest

More specifically, a giant healthier tempeh reuben. Or really, a vegetarian and almost vegan, reuben inspired sandwich. Ahh, what? Let me explain. Basically this sandwich is simple. I took all the flavors of a classic reuben, and adapted them to be healthier and lighter. I removed the meat, but not the cheese. 🙂 You all know that leaving off the swiss was just not an option for me. Everything else layered between these two pieces of bread is one hundred percent perfectly vegetarian and even vegan friendly.

I am not a vegan. I mean, obviously, but I am loving having fun experimenting with vegan recipes this month, and this reuben is one of my favorites. The idea came from my family, as a lot of the recipes this month have. Lyndsie was telling me all about a tempeh reuben she had at a restaurant, I think it was in San Fransisco? Anyway, she said it was one of the best sandwiches ever and that I really needed to try to recreate it. Apparently it was layered with cashew cheese, tempeh, vegan cheese, sauerkraut, and 1000 island dressing. To be brutally honest, listening to her explain the sandwich did not excite me at all. I’m not a fan of tofu too much, so I figured I wouldn’t like tempeh. I explained all this and then Lyn’s said that there’s also a brown rice tempeh. When I heard that I was sold.

Something about the brown rice sounded really appealing, so I picked up a whole bunch at Whole Foods and got started building my own tempeh reuben.

Healthier Tempeh Reuben | @hbharvest

Healthier Tempeh Reuben | @hbharvest

I decided to marinate the tempeh in soy sauce, black pepper, and mustard seeds. I wanted the salty soy to help flavor the tempeh. Once the tempeh has marinated for a bit, all you do is pan fry it in a skillet. It’s surprisingly delicious and I think the salty soy really helps, especially if you’re someone who is new to tempeh.

From here, it’s time to build up this sandwich…

…toasted rye bread: find a good whole grain rye bread, mine was seeded, which was delish. Also, I like to use organic butter, which many people are saying is healthy for us…going with it.

…cashew cheese: possibly the most addicting thing ever. It’s not a must for the sandwich since there is already a lot going on, BUT it’s definitely a must try. It’s great as a dip or spread and perfect for making healthy, cheese free sandwiches or sauces.

…marinated, pan-fried tempeh: the perfect meat substitute for a hearty sandwich.

…sauerkraut: I bought mine at the grocery store, but also threw in some shredded, sautéed brussels sprouts…because those are my favorite.

…swiss cheese: a must for me, but if you are vegan, just use extra cashew cheese.

…healthier 1000 island dressing: zero mayo or other incredibly weird ingredients here. I used tahini, flavored with spicy chili paste, in place of the mayo. I’ve never actually had real deal 1000 island dressing, but whatever I created tastes pretty darn good, so I’m going with this too.

…and DONE.

Healthier Tempeh Reuben | @hbharvest

Kind of a loaded sandwich though, right? And I’m not really sure how much it resembles, or even tastes like a true reuben, but just know that it’s super good and a much healthier sandwich option, which I am thinking we can all get on board with!

SIDE NOTE: my brother Creighton is going to be incredibly disgusted with me when he finds out I made a meat free Reuben. He might even disown me for a quick second. Ahh, sorry Creigh, but it had to be done.

Perfect for a fancy ass Thursday lunch or a quick and easy dinner. I highly recommend serving this up with a side of pickles, and maybe even some homemade oven baked french fries? Yes and YUM. Either way you serve it, it’s going to be good.

PS. apparently the pickle was my first ever solid food. My mom gave me my first one on a trip to Washington DC to shut me up while I was teething. I guess that was just the first of many, because I ate them all the time when I was younger. Somehow that changed over the years, seems I only eat now them when they come on the side of my plate at a restaurant…gotta change that!

Healthier Tempeh Reuben | @hbharvest

Healthier Tempeh Reuben.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Marinating time 30 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings: 2 sandwiches
Calories Per Serving: 752 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.


Healthier 1000 Island Dressing

  • 3/4 cup tahini
  • 1-2 tablespoons chili sauce
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped pickle + 1 tablespoon pickle juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • kosher salt + pepper


  • Slice the tempeh in half lengthwise and then slice each piece in half to create 4 small, thin pieces.
  • In a gallon size zip top bag, combine the tempeh, soy sauce, pinch of black pepper, and mustard seeds. Seal the bag and gently toss to evenly coat. Let marinate for 30 minutes, flipping the bag around half way through.
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add the olive oil. When the oil shimmers, add the tempeh in batches and cook until golden crisp, about 3-5 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining tempeh.
  • Spread the butter over each piece of bread and toast in the oven on a baking sheet for 3-5 minutes. Remove the bread. Spread the bottom pieces of bread with cashew cheese. Add the tempeh, sauerkraut, and swiss cheese. Return the baking sheet to the oven to melt the cheese, about 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, make the Healthier 1000 Island Dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, chili sauce, lemon juice, chopped pickles and pickle juice. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the sauce is smooth and pourable. Stir in the chives and season with salt and pepper. Keep stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks
  • Spread a little dressing on the inside of the remaining 2 pieces of bread. Remove the sandwiches from the oven and add the top piece of bread, dressing side facing down. Slice each sandwich in half. EAT.
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Cashew Cheese

Prep Time 10 minutes
soaking time 8 hours
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings: 1 cup
Calories Per Serving: 578 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.



  • Submerge the cashews in water and soak overnight on the counter. Drain.
  • In a food processor, combine the cashews, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, garlic powder and large pinch of salt. Pulse until smooth and creamy, adding water little by little until a dip like consistency is reached. Taste and adjust salt to your liking. Keep stored in a air tight container for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.


Nutritional values are based on the whole recipe
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Healthier Tempeh Reuben | @hbharvest

Question: are you a slice down the center or slice at an angle kind of person? Me? depends on my mood…and the sandwich.

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  1. 5 stars
    I am a lifelong vegetarian and sandwich lover! I remember my first vegetarian reuben and I have been on a quest to find the best one ever since. ENTER THIS SANDWICH! The combination of flavors from the marinated tempeh, cashew cheese and dressing make this sandwich everything I love. Thank you for sharing this with the world.

  2. This was delicious and really filling. Not sure how similar it is to a meat reuben, other than the sauerkraut, but it is good in and of itself. Thank you!

  3. This is SO good! My fiance had a similar sandwich at a vegetarian restaurant in Nashville, and I knew I wanted to find a way to recreate. Thanks so much for this great recipe!

  4. I can hear this sandwich calling my name… 🙂 Great way of serving tempeh, which normally is not that attractive! Yummo, and defo will try this! x