12 Amazing Pairings That Make the Perfect Corned Beef Sandwich

A mountainous pile of thinly sliced corned beef layered between two slices of rye bread really needs nothing else. But a few choice accompaniments can take the flavors to even greater heights.

The salty, fatty richness of high-quality cured corned beef deserves sides that provide texture and cut through the unctuous meat. Tangy, crunchy, and fresh ingredients prevent sandwich overload.

Follow this guide to crafting the ultimate combo corned beef sandwich with toppings and pairings that make every bite pop.

Perfect Breads for Piling on the Corned Beef

The base sets the stage, so choose a hearty bread that can stand up to the stacked contents.

  • Marble rye – The classic choice, with swirls of rye and wheat. Provides great flavor and sturdiness.

  • Pumpernickel – Dense, dark, and sour, its pleasant tang offsets the meat.

  • Jewish rye – Large caraway seeds add punch to braided or seeded loaves.

  • Baguette – A fresh baguette split lengthwise makes an excellent vessel.

  • Ciabatta roll – Soft and chewy, yet able to contain generous fillings.

  • Onion roll – Sweet onion flavor complements the corned beef.

  • Milk bread – Fluffy and mild, it soaks up juices without overpowering.

Essential Cheeses for Adding Creamy Contrast

Melty cheese acts as the “glue”, holding the sandwich together and providing a creamy contrast to the meat.

  • Swiss – The traditional choice with nutty, slightly pungent flavor. Melts beautifully.

  • Provolone – Sharp yet smooth. Slices hold together nicely when melted.

  • American – Oozes beautifully into every nook. Mild cheddar-like flavor.

  • Muenster – Soft, creamy texture and mellow taste.

  • Pepper jack – Spicy kick pairs great with the rich meat.

  • Havarti – Creamy with subtle acidity to cut the fat.

Must-Have Crisp Veggies for Freshness

Don’t overlook vegetables – they provide moisture, crunch, acidity, and freshness.

  • Sauerkraut – An obvious choice, the fermented tanginess cuts the richness.

  • Shredded lettuce – Crisp iceberg or romaine adds refreshing crunch.

  • Thinly sliced onions – Red onion gives some bite, sweetness from vidalia.

  • Chopped pickles – Briny dill or sour kosher styles wake up the palate.

  • Tomato slices – Use ripe tomatoes or stick with hardier plum variety.

  • Shredded carrot – For subtle sweetness and crackle between meat and cheese.

  • Pepper strips – Red, yellow, or green bell peppers for flavor and snap.

Spreadable Extras for Moisture and Flavor

Don’t skimp on condiments like mustard, mayo, and dressings. Spread them on bread or meat for extra zing.

  • Yellow mustard – The standard choice, adding a tangy punch.

  • Deli mustard – Grainier, spicier mustards like Dusseldorf.

  • Thousand Island – Creamy and sweet, a Reuben sandwich staple.

  • Russian dressing – Ketchup, mayo, and spices. Thick and rich.

  • Horseradish sauce – For sinus-clearing heat and vinegar tang.

  • ** Mayo** – Go plain or mix in mustard, hot sauce, or herbs.

  • Hummus – An unconventional choice. Garlicky nuttiness enhances the meat.

Crunchy Accents that Contrast the Tenderness

Crushed chips, crackers, nuts, or seeds over the top or on the side give a pleasant crunch.

  • Potato chips – Go kettle cooked, ridged, or classic.

  • Pretzel pieces – Choose thin hard pretzels and coarsely crush them.

  • Toasted rye croutons – Cube day-old rye bread, oil, and toast until crisp.

  • Sesame sticks – Crunchy accent with toasty sesame flavor.

  • Poppy seeds – Could also use caraway, fennel or cumin seeds.

  • Roasted nuts – Coarsely chop walnuts, pecans, or other varieties.

  • Fried onions – French’s are the classic Reuben topping.

Crunchy Pickled Favorites

Pickled vegetables like cucumbers, peppers, cabbage, and beets provide tang and texture.

  • Dill pickle spears – Essential tackle box favorite.

  • Cornichons – French mini gherkins, tend to be less sweet.

  • Pepperoncini – Pickled yellow Greek peppers pack some heat.

  • Kimchi – Spicy, funky fermented Napa cabbage.

  • Pickled red onion – Bold magenta rings with crisp bite.

  • Sauerkraut – Of course. Whether raw, cooked, or fried.

  • Pickled beets – Earthy, vibrant fuchsia roots.

Ooey, Gooey, Melty Cheese Sauces

For dipping those fries or chips into! Rich cheese sauces pair perfectly.

  • Queso dip – Chili-spiked Mexican cheese sauce.

  • Nacho cheese – The baseball stadium classic.

  • Cheddar cheese sauce – Sharp, creamy, and irresistible.

  • Blue cheese dressing – Chunky, pungent dip.

  • Truffle cheese fondue – For luxury vibes.

  • Beer cheese dip – Sharp cheddar spiked with ale.

Finger-Licking Fries and Chips

Crunchy, salty fries or chips serve as the perfect edible utensil for scooping up any drips.

  • French fries – The natural choice. Twice fried for crispness.

  • Tater tots – Crispy, crunchy cylinders of potato delight.

  • Waffle fries – Crisscrossed surface to hold toppings.

  • Kettle chips – Potato chips with great crunch and saltiness.

  • Corn chips – Scoops or triangles work nicely.

  • Potato skins – Crispy shells filled with cheese, bacon, and sour cream.

Refreshing Beverages to Wash It Down

Cut through the indulgent flavors with crisp, acidic, or bubbly drinks.

  • Iced tea – Unsweetened or lightly sweetened.

  • Lemonade – Homemade is ideal, but any works.

  • Arnold Palmer – Half lemonade, half iced tea.

  • Seltzer – Lime is a great choice to cleanse the palate.

  • Beer – Pick your favorite lager, ale, or stout.

  • Ginger ale – Super bubbly to offset the fat.

Sweet Treats to Cap It All Off

Why not make it a true feast! Enjoy a sweet dessert along with your sandwich.

  • Black and white cookie – A NYC deli classic with sweet icing.

  • Chocolate babka – Rich, swirled Jewish bread.

  • Rugelach – Buttery, crescent-shaped Jewish pastry.

  • Apple pie – Or other fruit pies. Great with cheese.

  • Macarons – Light almond-flavored French meringue cookies.

  • Cannoli – Crispy pastry tubes with sweet ricotta filling.

Putting It All Together

With so many options for perfect pairings, the combinations are endless. Try some classic pairings or get creative and make your ultimate corned beef sandwich.

The cured meat itself brings concentrated savoriness. Add pickles, cheeses, crispy vegetables, and condiments to balance the flavors. Crunchy, salty sides provide textural contrast. And don’t forget something refreshing to drink and a sweet treat to finish.

With the right supporting players in place, your stacked corned beef creation can achieve sandwich nirvana. So pile it high and get ready to enjoy one of the world’s greatest treats!

Corned Beef Sandwich (1974) on Sandwiches of History⁣


What pairs well with corned beef?

There are 7 classic pairings when asking about what to serve with corned beef: vegetables in roasted form, corn casserole as an appetizer, the Irish soda bread as classic table breading, potato – always best as mashed, Sauerkraut to cut back on the salted beef, and if you fancy sweet thing – Irish oatmeal cake all the …

What is a good side dish for a Reuben sandwich?

Assuming you have room in your stomach to fit in a side dish (Reubens should be filling): sauerkraut or half-sour or dill pickle, potato salad (with a non-mayonnaise dressing), and coleslaw. The side dish should have some vinegary tang to it to offset the fatty meat and cheese of the sandwich.

What is the difference between a corned beef sandwich and a Reuben sandwich?

A Reuben is corned beef + Swiss cheese + Russian dressing + sauerkraut. You can ask for a “pastrami Reuben” and they’ll figure it out. A pastrami sandwich would just have pastrami. Or you can ask for a Rachel, which is pastrami + Swiss cheese + cole slaw + Russian dressing.

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