Slow Cooker Reuben Melts



When I first moved up to Minneapolis I waited tables at this place.  There was a reuben on the menu that they were sort of known for at the time.  But it wasn’t like any other reuben I’d ever had.  The corned beef was braised.  So the results were not a slice of dry beef, but the most tender, pull-apart, juicy bliss.   It was basically like a love child between a pot roast and a corned beef brisket.

Fast forward about a bajillion years and here I was, just this past weekend, standing among a St Patricks Day haven at the local market:  a giant cooler full of corned beef briskets.  Score!  Totally trying this reuben thing at home.  

I’ve never made a corned beef brisket at home but I’ve read my fair share of articles and recipes on the stuff…and what I have learned is that the more simple the better when it comes to ingredients and the slower the better in the oven.  It’s a tough piece of meat that can be turned into tender goodness with enough time.  Most recipes call for spices, veggies, sometimes even cloves, and water.  Let it go in the oven until its tender and slice-able.  But I wanted the shredded, fall apart stuff…and I really didn’t want to spend all day at home in order for it cook slowly in the oven.


So I put it in the slow cooker, because, well, everything you put in the slow cooker comes out shredded and tender, sometimes even to a fault… but it just seemed logical for something like a corned beef brisket.

And logical would be an understatement.  3 tiny things, friends:  corned beef brisket, cider beer and onion.  Theres your ingredient list.  And my corned beef dreams have come true.

Now, on to the really good stuff.

SONY DSCI like to think I am a reuben connoisseur (is this even possible coming from a 100% Lebanese girl?)  There are just a couple prerequisites I have for the trustee old Irish Classic: (1) I need the corned beef tender and succulent…delicious enough to eat alone for a meal  (2) I need a fair amount of sauerkraut piled on and  (3) I need a sauce or juices of some form oozing out of the sandwich and down my arm; I never claimed to be a dainty gal.
SONY DSCSo…to cut this veeerrrryyyy long story short…I have done it.  I have conquered the at home ‘reuben’ and I like to think it could rival any other top-rated reuben out there.


See this here?  My prereqs were totally met.  And that sauce tho.


The St Patricks Day dinner of champs, my friends.  Next Thursdays meal plan is done!

Slow Cooker Reuben Melts

notes:  any cider beer will work for the brisket.  I used this Green Apple variety from Angry Orchard-it’s sweet but has a tiny bit of tartness to it that I adore for this recipe.  also, this recipe makes enough corned beef to feed reubens to an army…invite company over…or freeze leftovers for another meal 😉


For the Corned Beef Brisket:

1 (approx 3 Pound) Trimmed Corned Beef Brisket + pickling spice packet it comes with

1 Large White Onion, peeled and quartered

1 Bottle Apple Cider Beer

For the 1000 Island Sauce:

1 Cup Mayonnaise

1/4 Cup Prepared Ketchup

1 Large Garlic Clove, grated or pressed

1/2 Teaspoon Onion Powder

2 Tablespoons Sweet Pickle Relish

Salt + Black Pepper

For the Reuben Melts:

Whole Grain Sandwich Bread (we use this)

Softened Butter

Prepared Sauerkraut

Sliced Swiss Cheese


For the Corned Beef Brisket:

Put onion in the bowl of a slow cooker, lay the brisket, fat side up, on top of the onion and sprinkle the top with pickling spices.  Pour the beer over the top and cover.  Cook on low for 12-14 hours or until brisket can easily be shredded with a fork.  Remove brisket, shred with two forks and reserve (pour some of the cooking liquid over the brisket to keep it juicy).

For the 1000 Island Sauce:

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl until combined.  Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

For the Reuben Melts:

Butter one side of the bread slices and heat a skillet over medium heat.  Flip buttered bread over-butter side down-and top with a slice of swiss cheese, desired amount of shredded corned beef, sauerkraut and 1000 Island sauce (top with another slice of cheese if you’re feeling sassy). Place another piece of bread on top, buttered side up.  Grill in skillet until browned, about 2 minutes.  Flip over and grill the other side.  Serve with a additional 1000 Island Sauce on the side.

34 thoughts on “Slow Cooker Reuben Melts

    1. Bread needs to be marble rye. Cooking my first corned beef brisket, but I make a mean Reuben. Grilled marble rye, corned beef, provolone, sauerkraut, and spicy mustard on mine, but the thousand island sounds good, too.

  1. I didn’t know you worked at McCoy’s! I live right over there. 🙂 Yes, these are soooo good and I’ve failed to duplicate it at home. Can’t wait to try this!

  2. Did you cook on low in the slow cooker? Making this now. Excited to have these yummy sandwiches!! Thanks for sharing 😊

      1. I’m making this tonight! Cooked the meat overnight and can’t WAIT to make my sammy! Thanks for the great recipe. It would have never occurred to me to make my own Ruebens. I make my own mayo, so the sauce should be amazeballs!

    1. Hi Beth! Some markets actually sell pickling spice. Otherwise I’d suggest bay leaf, peppercorns, garlic, maybe a little mustard seed..but I can’t speak to quantities as I’ve never tested it. So sorry I can’t be of more help…but if you bought a “corned beef brisket” chances are many of those flavors have already been incorporated. Let me know what you end up doing!

    1. I wouldn’t substitute vinegar as it will toy with both the taste and texture of the meat. You could definitely substitute any other kind of beer and it would work just fine…I just prefer the sweetness that the cider beer lends. Hope this helps!

  3. Can I substitute the beer for something that isn’t beer? We don’t really drink beer and I don’t wanna go out just for a bottle of beer

    1. While I have not tried it, i would think you could absolutely use stock or broth of any kind to replace the beer. It may change the texture and flavor, but i think you’ll still be ok and come out with good results.

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