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The Tempeh Reuben and I actually go way back. When I was young my mom would bring my sister and I to a restaurant near the Farmington river in New Hartford, CT called, Passiflora. It was a delightful, healthy, and sustainable cafe with all sorts of vegan goodies. We had been going about once a summer since I was little, much before we made the switch to a plant-based lifestyle. We had a few favorites at Passiflora including the Tempeh Reuben and their Green Tea Cupcakes (a recipe for another day!). Sadly, a few years ago the cafe closed. My mom, sister, and I then took it upon ourselves to remake the delicious Tempeh Reuben to cure our nostalgia.

While a tradition Reuben comes with layers of corned beef and cheese this recipe is a plant-packed version that is just as delightful! Don't knock it till you try it! You still get plenty of protein from the tempeh in addition to some gut-fueling, probiotics from the tempeh & sauerkraut. Not to mention the sweet and savory flavor bomb that is this Thousand Island dressing. In my opinion, the Thousand Island is what really makes this sandwich!

Recipe Tips:


For the tempeh I suggest a plain tempeh, you will find some with grains or seeds added in but I like to get the simplest one for this recipe. When purchasing soy I recommend always trying to get organic as it can be one of the most heavily sprayed crops out there. If you prefer to do larger slabs of tempeh instead of the thin slices then I recommend marinating it for 2-3 hours so it can absorb the flavor. This may also adjust the cooking time.


While this sandwich is traditionally made on Rye I think that Sourdough or Pumpernickel would be a great substitute.

Thousand Island

For this dressing if you want to make it without Mayonnaise you can substitute the same amount of cashew cream (blend 1/2 cup soaked cashews, 2/3 cup water, 1 tbsp nutritional yeast, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 tsp salt) or Kite Hill's Unsweetened Greek Style Yogurt.

Vegan Cheese

While I did not include a vegan cheese substitute here if you would like too I would suggest Violife or Chao by Field Roast.



Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 sandwiches


8 slices of Rye Bread

1 1/4 cups of sauerkraut

1 package of tempeh

Tempeh Marinade:

3 tbsp coconut aminos or low sodium soy sauce

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp black pepper


Thinly slice the tempeh into strips about 1/8 of an inch thick and add to a bowl with all of the ingredients for the tempeh marinade. Massage marinade onto tempeh so all pieces are well covered. Let sit for 15-20 minutes or up to an hour in the fridge.

Add your tempeh to the air fryer set to 375. Set for 15 minutes. After 5 minutes give them a shake, then after another 5 check them. I found my sweet spot to be about 12 minutes for perfect crispiness. Alternatively add to the oven and bake on a parchment lined baking sheet at 375F for 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway.

To assemble the sandwich add a thick layer of Thousand Island to each side of the bread, layer on the crispy tempeh, and add the sauerkraut. Feel free to add a slice of vegan cheese here as well if you like. Now you can either add your sandwich to a panini press or to a pan on the stove with a little bit of vegan butter.

Enjoy on it's own or with my Cauliflower Carrot Soup!




*Recipe adapted from my sister*

Time: 5 minutes

Yield: ~1 cup


3/4 cup Ketchup

1/2 minced red onion

1 handful of finely chopped parsley (about 3-4 tbsp)

pinch of black pepper

pinch of salt


Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk till combined.

Lasts in the fridge for 1 week.


Me, my sister Sam (right), brother-in-law Steve, and sister-in-law Ana (left) making homemade Reubens St.Patrick's Day of 2021! We made half with tempeh (made by me) and half with corned beef (made by my brother Bill). I think this might be a new tradition now!

This is the original Tempeh Reuben from Passiflora, New Hartford, CT! I took this photo back in 2015, could you tell I was a wanna-be-food-blogger?? To be completely honest when I was young, I actually had no idea this was a vegan restaurant until my mom told me. All this time I thought that this is what a Reuben actually was!

One of the main differences between this recipe and mine is that I like to use thinly sliced strips of tempeh instead of slabs. I feel that the tempeh can absorb the marinade better in strips and it gets crispier. If you were to marinate the tempeh overnight then maybe a slab would work too. Something I need to revisit!


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A food and nutrition expert who can work in a wide variety of employment settings, including health care, business and industry, community/public health, education, research, government agencies and private practice. RDNs are accredited health professionals that must meet state and government regulations to maintain their credential in addition to completing continuing education. RDNs can practice something called Medical Nutrition Therapy to improve the health of those who suffer from chronic diseases. 

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