Learn how to make chicken cordon bleu, a classic French dish stuffed with savory ham and cheese, coated in breadcrumbs, then cooked to perfection. I also have a delicious, creamy dijon mustard sauce to serve on the side.
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Impress your guests with this classic and elegant chicken cordon bleu recipe. The crispy coated pieces of juicy chicken stuffed with melted cheese and ham provide an amazing contrast in taste and texture. The dish’s name translates to “blue ribbon” in French. It might sound fancy, but I’ll show you how easy it is to prepare!
The retro dish looks stunning because the ingredients are formed into a roulade. Basically, pounded chicken breast is filled and rolled, which creates pretty layers when sliced. To finish it off, I have a flavorful Dijon cream sauce to drizzle on top.
Prepare the chicken
Use boneless skinless chicken breasts for the roulade. The meat is lean and tender, ideal for filling with ham and cheese. Use pieces that are between 8 to 9 ounces in size. If using larger breasts, slice them in half lengthwise to create two cutlets.
Place the chicken between two sheets of plastic wrap or in a large resealable bag. Use a meat mallet or rolling pin to pound them into 1/4-inch in thickness. This will make layering and rolling the chicken into a cigar shape easier.
Layer the filling
I use two slices of deli-sliced smoked ham, which gives about 2 ounces of meat per serving. Other types of ham, like black forest, honey, or Italian prosciutto, can be used. If the pieces are much bigger than the chicken, trim them to fit.
Add the slices of ham on top of the flattened breasts, followed by ¼ cup of shredded swiss cheese. The gooey shreds help the chicken roll stick together.
Roll the chicken
Tightly roll the chicken into a cigar shape. Then wrap them individually in plastic wrap. This helps the meat stick better together, and you can press any open sides in for a tighter roll.
Freeze them for 15 minutes, or refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm them up before coating and baking. If making ahead, you can prepare the rolls and leave them in the refrigerator for two days prior to serving.
Coat in breadcrumbs
I use the standard breading procedure to create and thick, crispy crust around each piece of chicken. Once the meat has chilled, unwrap and season the surface with salt and pepper. Use shallow bowls for each dipping station. Start by coating each piece in the flour, then egg wash, then the panko bread crumb mixture.
I find it easiest to use your hands for better control and to ensure the chicken stays rolled up. Note that if you prefer to use finer regular bread crumbs, the crust will not be as crunchy and it will yield a deeper golden brown color.
Bake the chicken
Like chicken parmesan, traditional chicken cordon bleu is pan-fried or deep-fried in oil. However, to make preparation easier with less fat, I bake them instead. Place the coated chicken rolls on a greased foil-lined baking sheet. To achieve a crispy crust, you need to bake at a high oven temperature of 450ºF (232ºC). This helps quickly dry the bread crumbs’ surface, creating a crunchy and lightly golden brown hue.
The baking process only takes about 25 to 30 minutes to thoroughly cook the chicken to 165ºF (74ºC). Let the meat rest for 5 minutes to redistribute the juices. If not serving immediately, transfer to a wire rack to prevent the bottoms from getting soggy on the pan.
Make the sauce
For a creamy chicken cordon bleu sauce, make a roux. Saute minced garlic in melted butter. Add the flour, and whisk until a blonde roux is formed. This only takes about a minute. Slowly add whole milk, constantly whisking to thicken the sauce. The milk fat adds a creamy and velvety consistency.
Turn off the heat, then stir in the parmesan cheese, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. The end result is a rich sauce with a slight tanginess to complement the chicken. Serve your guests whole pieces and let them slice open to see the surprise filling inside, or cut them into pinwheels to reveal the stunning layers in the roulade.
Serve this with
Frequently asked questions
Yes! You can pan-fry the pieces of chicken on the stovetop. Use a large nonstick skillet with ½ cup of vegetable oil. Cook all sides over medium heat, about 2 to 4 minutes per side, until golden brown and fully cooked.
Regular or Italian-style can be used instead of panko. They are finer and will become more golden brown. The crunch level won’t be as great since the particles are smaller. Larger homemade bread crumbs will give more of a comparable crunch to the panko. Try crushed cornflakes or ritz crackers.
Swiss cheese is the most traditionally used in chicken cordon bleu. Other tasty options include gruyere, mozzarella, provolone, or cheddar.
Making crispy baked chicken cordon bleu
Frying the chicken yields the most undeniably crispy and golden color. However, the oven can produce a crunchy texture using simple tricks. Toss the panko bread crumbs in olive oil. The extra fat will help the coating become crisper and browned. Adding oil to the egg wash fries between the meat and coating. Baking on a lightly greased pan makes the bottoms crunchier.
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Chicken Cordon Bleu
Chicken Cordon Bleu
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, about 2 pounds
- 1 kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- ½ black pepper, plus more for seasoning
- 8 slices deli smoked ham, 8 ounces
- 1 cup shredded swiss cheese
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup olive oil, divided
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cup panko bread crumbs
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme, optional
Creamy Dijon Sauce
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, optional
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Flatten the Chicken – Thoroughly dry each piece with a paper towel. Place one between two sheets of plastic or inside a large plastic bag and flatten to an even ¼-inch thickness. Repeat with the remaining pieces.
- Roll the Chicken – Layer two slices of ham and ¼ cup of swiss cheese on top of each flattened piece of chicken. Starting at the shorter end, roll tightly, tucking in the sides, to create a cigar shape. Tightly cover each roll in plastic wrap, twisting the sides to secure it. Refrigerate them for 30 minutes or freeze them for 15 minutes to firm up.
- Preheat the Oven – Set the oven rack to the middle position. Heat to 450°F (230ºC). Line a large baking sheet with foil and lightly grease it with olive oil, spreading to evenly coat. Set aside.
- Set up the Breading Station – In one shallow bowl, mix the flour with 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper. In a second shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. In a third shallow bowl, use your hands to combine panko breadcrumbs, 3 tablespoons olive oil, and thyme.
- Bread the Chicken – Unwrap the chicken and season the surface with salt and pepper. Using your hands, dip it in flour, shaking off any excess coating. Next, dip in the egg mixture, coat completely, and drain any excess. Lastly, dip in the breadcrumbs, pressing to coat evenly.
- Bake the Chicken – Evenly space the chicken rolls on the prepared sheet pan. Bake until the surface is golden brown and crisp, and the internal temperature reaches 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC), about 25 to 30 minutes. Rest for 5 minutes before serving. Meanwhile, make the dijon sauce.
- Make the Dijon Sauce – In a medium saute pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic, and saute for 30 seconds. Add the flour to the pan and whisk to combine, cook until the roux turns blonde in color, about 1 minute.Gradually add the milk, whisking continuously to break up any clumps of flour. Cook until the sauce is smooth and thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and whisk in the parmesan cheese, dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- To Serve – Serve the chicken pieces whole or sliced with the sauce on top and bottom or in a bowl on the side.
- Pan-Frying: Heat a ½ cup vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook until golden brown and fully cooked, about 2 to 4 minutes per side. Add more oil as needed.
- Using Cornstarch: Combine 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water. Whisk into hot milk, stir, and cook until thickened, about 30 to 60 seconds.
- Storing: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Freeze for up to 3 months; defrost before using.
- Reheating: Heat inside a 350ºF (177ºC) oven until hot, about 10 to 15 minutes. Alternatively, microwave on high setting in 30-second intervals until hot. If desired, broil in the oven for a few minutes for a crispy texture.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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