Learn how to make chicken cordon bleu using these easy step-by-step instructions! Ham and cheese stuffed chicken breasts are breaded in panko, then baked until crisp. It’s a classic comfort food that’s made even better when topped with a luscious dijon cream sauce.
Chicken breasts are one of my favorite versatile ingredients because they pair well with all kinds of flavors and can even be stuffed with creamy and comforting ingredients!
That’s exactly why they’re perfect for chicken cordon bleu recipes. Once pounded flat, the breasts become pliable and easy to roll with the delicious cheesy ham filling, leaving you with juicy and flavorful comfort food.
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What is chicken cordon bleu?
Traditional chicken cordon bleu recipes involve rolling thin chicken breasts, ham, and cheese together, dredging the chicken “logs” with bread crumbs, then pan-frying them in oil. My baked version is slightly lighter but doesn’t sacrifice the golden crust or tender chicken. It’s just as delicious as the classic, especially when topped with the creamy Dijon cordon bleu sauce.
The dish is similar to Swiss chicken schnitzel, but it’s regarded as a French recipe because its name comes from the French term “cordon bleu,” referring to the coveted blue ribbon awarded to exceptional recipes.
Why this recipe works
- Low maintenance, yet flavorful. Baking the stuffed chicken until it’s crisp and juicy cuts down on the mess while the Dijon cream sauce on top adds a ton of delicious flavor.
- Short list of simple ingredients. Despite feeling like a fancy French dish, this recipe is made with simple and easy-to-find ingredients (I refer to it as an adult version of chicken nuggets!).
- It’s versatile. Baked chicken cordon bleu is easy to make for meal prep or for weeknight dinners. However, like chicken Milanese, it also feels elegant enough to impress guests at dinner parties and holidays!
All of these ingredients are close to what you’d find in the traditional time-honored chicken dish. Here’s everything you need:
- Panko bread crumbs – For a light coating and maximum crunch! You can substitute panko for plain or Italian-seasoned regular bread crumbs, or use my Keto Bread Crumbs instead.
- Parmesan cheese – For a cheesy and salty flavor in the bread crumb coating.
- Italian seasoning – Use a pre-mixed blend or make your own.
- Eggs – Dipping the cordon bleu logs in egg wash gives the bread crumbs a wet surface to cling to and helps the crust turn golden in the oven.
- Chicken – Use large boneless and skinless chicken breasts. If frozen, let them thaw overnight in the fridge before using.
- Ham – You can use any thinly sliced deli ham, including black forest, Virginia, honey-roasted, capicola, etc.
- Swiss cheese – If possible, use deli-sliced swiss cheese because cheese from pre-sliced packages doesn’t melt as nicely. You can also use swiss cheese shredded directly from the block.
For the Dijon cream sauce:
- Butter – Adds flavor and works with the flour as a thickening roux.
- Flour – To help thicken the sauce.
- Heavy cream – This is the base of standard cream sauce. It makes it extra rich and creamy.
- Dijon mustard – For a touch of tang! If you don’t have dijon, whole grain or spicy brown mustard will work in a pinch.
- Salt and black pepper – For flavor.
How to make chicken cordon bleu
While there is a bit of hands-on work involved in homemade chicken cordon bleu recipes, it’s still very beginner-friendly! Once the prep is done, all you have to do is pop the chicken in the oven, leaving your hands free to make the Dijon cream sauce. Here’s the step-by-step:
Step 1: Set up the breading stations
Preheat the oven and lightly grease a baking sheet. Set aside. While you wait, assemble the breading stations. Stir the panko bread crumbs, parmesan, and Italian seasonings in a bowl. In a separate bowl, crack the eggs and beat until smooth.
Step 2: Pound the chicken breasts
Lay a piece of plastic wrap on a flat surface and place a chicken breast on top. Cover with another piece of plastic. Using a meat tenderizer or rolling pin, pound the chicken into a thin and even thickness. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
Step 3: Stuff, bread, and roll
Remove the top piece of plastic from the pounded chicken. Place a slice of ham and a slice of swiss cheese on top.
Roll up the chicken breast to form a log shape.
Unwrap the rolled chicken from the plastic and dip it in the egg, followed by the bread crumb-parmesan mixture. Place it on the prepared baking sheet seam side down and repeat with the other chicken breasts.
Step 4: Bake
Bake the chicken cordon bleu in the oven until the chicken is cooked through and the breading is golden.
Step 5: Make Dijon cream sauce
While the chicken is baking, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, then slowly add the heavy cream. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Whisk in the mustard, salt, and pepper, and gently simmer until it thickens.
Step 6: Rest, slice, and serve
Let the baked chicken rest for 5 minutes out of the oven. Plate each chicken breast, drizzle some dijon cream sauce over top, then enjoy!
Tips to make the best recipe
- Take your time pounding each chicken breast to an even ¼ inch thickness, but don’t go overboard. You want to whack the chicken firmly, but not with so much force that the pieces fall apart. If you’re new to pounding chicken, try chicken cutlets.
- Are the rolled and stuffed chicken breasts unraveling? You can secure them with a toothpick or two. Just remember to remove them before serving!
- Or, if you have extra time, place the plastic-wrapped logs of stuffed chicken in the fridge for 15 to 30 minutes. This makes it easier for the logs to hold their shape during breading and baking.
- To prevent the chicken from overcooking, use a meat thermometer and cook until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (or a few degrees less as the temperature will rise an additional 2 to 3 degrees while the chicken rests).
Feel free to mix and match the filling ingredients with other types of cheese, sliced meats, or sauces:
- Cheese: Swiss is standard, but that doesn’t mean it’s your only option. Try sharp cheddar, white cheddar, mozzarella, provolone, gruyere, gouda, or fontina cheese instead.
- Meat filling: Instead of sliced ham, roll the chicken and cheese up with prosciutto or pancetta. Bacon or turkey bacon is also an option.
- Finishing sauce: Instead of Dijon cream sauce, try drizzling the baked chicken with honey mustard sauce, mushroom cream sauce, or any other thick, creamy, and flavorful sauce.
What to serve with this dish
This classic cheesy stuffed chicken pairs well with practically any side. For a well-balanced and complete meal, pair each chicken cordon bleu with scalloped potatoes, mashed potatoes, or mashed cauliflower, green veggies like broccoli, asparagus, or brussels sprouts, and flavor-forward salads like this Green Goddess Salad and this Healthy Greek Couscous Salad.
- Make ahead: You can pound, stuff, and bread the chicken up to 1 day in advance. Keep the chicken covered in the fridge overnight. The next day, set it out at room temperature for about 10 minutes before baking as instructed.
- To store: Let the leftovers cool completely, then store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
- To freeze: This recipe freezes best before baking, making it an excellent make-ahead meal. First, prep the chicken up until it’s coated in panko. Freeze it in a freezer-safe container or wrapped individually in plastic for 2 to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before baking.
- Reheating: Reheat the leftover chicken in the oven or air fryer at 350°F until warmed through.
More classic chicken recipes
Frequently asked questions
I haven’t tested this recipe in the air fryer, but it would be similar to my chicken parmesan or fried chicken.
I suggest preheating the air fryer to 190°C/375°F, greasing the basket with cooking spray, and air frying the stuffed chicken in a single layer for 10 to 12 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
To make this recipe gluten free, use gluten free panko or gluten free bread crumbs. As for the flour in the creamy sauce, a 1:1 gluten free all purpose flour or cornstarch should do the trick.
To make a low carb, keto-friendly version, simply substitute my Keto Bread Crumbs for the panko. Easy!
Chicken Cordon Bleu
- 4 large chicken breasts
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasonings
- 2 large eggs
- 4 slices ham
- 4 slices Swiss cheese
Dijon cream sauce
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
- In a bowl, mix together the panko bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and Italian seasonings. In a separate bowl, add the eggs and beat them together.
- Lay a piece of plastic wrap on a flat surface and place a chicken breast fillet on top. Lay another piece of plastic wrap on top to cover it. Pound the chicken using a meat tenderizer or rolling pin until it is around 1/4 inch in thickness. Repeat this step with each chicken breast.
- Remove the top layer of plastic, and onto each chicken breast, add a slice of ham and a slice of Swiss cheese, and roll each one up, using the outer layer of plastic to help them keep the shape.
- Unwrap each rolled up chicken breast and dip each one in the egg, followed by the panko and parmesan mix.
- Lightly grease a baking sheet and place the chicken breasts on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165F.
- While the chicken is cooking, prepare the sauce. In a small saucepan, add the butter and place over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, then slowly add the heavy cream. Bring everything to a simmer, then add the mustard, salt, and pepper. While stirring regularly, let the sauce simmer until it has thickened.
- Once the chicken is cooked, slice it up and drizzle the sauce on top.
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Can these recipes be done in an air fryer?