Chicken Cordon Bleu

Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe made with tender chicken breasts, stuffed with savory ham and melty cheese, crusted in crispy Parmesan panko is a showstopper that’s surprisingly easy to make!

This crunchy, flavorful Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe is flavor, texture fireworks (perfect for Valentine’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays, etc.) but is secretly easy to prepare!  Succulent, golden, crispy, Parmesan panko crusted chicken breasts are stuffed with savory Black Forest ham and tangy Gruyere Swiss cheese, rolled and baked to melty perfection, then finished with the dreamiest Dijon cream sauce. Best of all, this recipe tastes just as good (or better) than fried versions thanks to my secret tip! Serve Cordon Bleu Chicken with mashed potatoes, and roasted Parmesan broccoli along with some Parmesan breadsticks for a complete meal that everyone will love! 

How to Make Chicken Cordon Bleu Video

showing how to serve chicken cordon bleu recipe by slicing and serving with Dijon cream sauce


 

CHICKEN CORDON BLEU FAQS

WHAT IS CORDON BLEU?

Chicken Cordon Bleu is a classic French dish made of thinly pounded chicken, layered with thinly sliced ham and Swiss cheese, then rolled up, breaded in panko breadcrumbs, then either pan fried or baked.  It is typically served with a Dijon cream sauce.

WHAT IS THE “BLEU” IN CHICKEN CORDON BLEU?

Chicken Cordon Bleu sounds fancy because it is a French term, but is actually simple to make.  In French, cordon bleu translates to “blue ribbon” and refers to the blue ribbon worn by members of the highest order of knighthood in France in 1578.

This blue-ribbon term has come to mean anything of a very high standard. In the culinary world, it is reserved for food prepared to the highest standard – and Chicken Cordon Bleu has earned the highest honor in its very name, so you know it has to be good! 

When did chicken Cordon Bleu originate?  

The earliest reference to Cordon Bleu Chicken is in the New York Times in 1967, but it no doubt dates much earlier. It originated from other veal/pork cordon bleu recipes from Switzerland dating back to around 1940.

WHERE IS CORDON BLUE FROM?

The story of the first “cordon blue” goes that two large dinner parties showed up at a restaurant in Brig, Switzerland in the early 19th century, both claiming to have a dinner reservation. The chef didn’t have enough meat for both parties, so she cut the meat into schnitzels, filled them with ham and cheese and then breaded and fried the schnitzel so it would stretch to feed both groups.   

The owner of the restaurant was so pleased with the results, that he offered her “the cordon bleu” (the blue ribbon), the highest honor for an excellent cook. The modest chef answered that she did not need a blue ribbon, but she would keep the term “cordon bleu” for her signature creation.

While we may never know the exact origin of the now famous Cordon Bleu Chicken, we do know that it is still worthy of its name!

up closer of showing how to serve chicken cordon bleu by cutting into slices

CHICKEN CORDON BLEU Ingredients

Chicken Cordon Bleu has stood the test of time because it is flavor-texture fireworks!  From the salty, roasted ham to the tangy, oozing melty cheese, to the crispy, buttery breading, to the succulent juicy chicken, to the creamy tangy sauce – it will have your taste buds swooning! Let’s take a closer look at what you’ll need to make this recipe (full recipe in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):

FOR THE CHICKEN ROLLS

  • Chicken:  Use medium-small chicken breasts, about 6-7 ounces each.  If you purchase extra-large chicken breasts, slice them through the equator to create fillets. 
  • Deli ham:  I recommend thinly sliced ham from the deli counter, specifically Black Forest ham. Other ham varieties, such as Virginia ham, are milder and drier than Black Forest ham. See below for more on Black Forest ham.
  • Swiss Cheese: You need a strong cheese to stand out against the salty ham, honey mustard, and buttery breading, specifically Gruyere Swiss cheese. Look for blocks of Gruyere with the specialty cheeses at your grocery store.  You can use regular Swiss, but it’s not nearly as flavorful (SEE TIPS SECTION FOR DETAILS). Gruyere is the consummate melting cheese that’s slightly sweet, slightly salty, creamy, and nutty. I find shredded Gruyere easier to roll up than slices, but you can use slices if you wish. 

For the breading

  • Panko: This is a Japanese breadcrumb that can be found next to the traditional/Italian breadcrumbs at your grocery store.  Panko breadcrumbs are lighter, larger and dryer than normal breadcrumbs so they absorb less moisture which produces a way crispier breading.  Please do NOT substitute with traditional breadcrumbs and expect the same results.  
  • Parmesan cheese:  The grated cheese is added to the panko and melts into the breading as it cooks for nutty cheese yum.  Please use freshly grated Parmesan (grated on a zester, not powdery) and never the Parmesan that comes in a jar with the green lid (it’s more concentrated, salty, doesn’t melt).
  • Seasonings: The breading is seasoned with dried parsley, dried basil, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper so it’s scrumptious all on its own.
  • Butter and olive oil:  The panko is toasted in both olive oil and butter prior to baking so it’s supremely crunchy and tastes decadently buttery.  Use unsalted butter or reduce the salt in the recipe.
up close of a cordon bleu chicken made with Swiss cheese and ham

FOR THE wash

  • Dijon mustardThis is made from fine ground hot brown or black mustard seeds and white wine which give it a sharp, pungent flavor with a little heat. Please do NOT substitute with yellow deli mustard.
  • Honey: Any honey will do the trick. It’s important to help the wash stick to the chicken and to balance the pungent mustard, salty ham and tangy cheese.
  • Olive oil: This promotes juicer chicken! I use olive oil but you may substitute with your favorite neutral tasting oil.

CHICKEN CORDON BLEU SAUCE

The Chicken Cordon Bleu Sauce marries all of the flavors and textures together for a spectacular finish!  It is finger licking, spoon licking good. You will use some of the same ingredients you used earlier. You will need:

  • Heavy cream: Also known as heavy whipping cream, this makes for an ultra-creamy, decadent sauce.  You may also substitute half and half or evaporated milk with an additional 1 tablespoon cornstarch.
  • Chicken broth:  Use reduced sodium chicken broth so we can control the salt. Broth is more flavorful than using all heavy cream and has less calories.
  • Cornstarch: This promotes quick thickening of the sauce without having to make a roux and allows us to use the less caloric chicken broth instead of all heavy cream.
  • Dijon mustard: Use the same mustard used in the wash.
  • Honey: Use the same type of honey used in the wash.
  • Seasonings: Again dried basil, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper season the sauce – no bland Cordon Bleu Chicken here!

HOW TO MAKE Chicken Cordon Bleu

Chicken Cordon Bleu is a celebration of juicy chicken on the inside, and a crazy, crunchy golden crust on the outside.  Let’s take a closer look at how it’s made (full recipe in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):

  • Step 1: Flatten the chicken.  Place chicken breast between two sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper and pound chicken to an even thickness of ¼ inch using the flat side of a meat mallet or side of a can.
showing how to make chicken cordon bleu recipe by pounding chicken to an even thickness
  • Step 2: Layer the ham and cheese.  Lay 2 slices of ham over each chicken breast, Evenly line a heaping ¼ cup shredded cheese down the center of the ham, leaving about ½ inch border on all sides.  
showing how to make chicken cordon bleu recipe by layering chicken breasts with ham and Swiss cheese
  • Step 3: Roll up the chicken.  Starting on the smaller end of the chicken portion, tightly roll up the chicken.
showing how to make chicken cordon bleu recipe by rolling the chicken, ham and cheese up tightly
showing how to make chicken cordon bleu recipe by securing the rolled chicken with toothpicks
  • Step 4: Toast the panko breading. Toast the panko in some butter and olive oil until golden, then immediately transfer to a large bowl.  Once cool, stir in the Parmesan and seasonings.
showing how to make chicken cordon bleu recipe by toasting the panko breadcrumbs in a skillet
a collage showing how to make chicken cordon bleu recipe by adding panko, Parmesan and spices and to a bowl then whisking together
  • Step 5: Add the Dijon wash.  In a separate bowl, whisk together some Dijon mustard, honey, and olive oil. Working with one chicken roll at a time, add chicken to the prepared wash and brush to evenly coat. Not only does this wash provide adhesive for the breading, it keeps the chicken moist and extra flavorful.
a collage showing how to make chicken cordon bleu recipe by stirring together Dijon, honey and olive oil to coat the chicken before breading
showing how to make chicken cordon bleu recipe by brushing chicken with Dijon coating before adding the panko
  • Step 6: Bread the chicken.  Transfer the roll to the breading and press the crumbs into all sides, turning as needed. Place the chicken on prepared baking rack evenly spaced apart.
howing how to make chicken cordon bleu recipe by breading the chicken with panko breadcrumbs and Parmesan
  • Step 7: Bake.  Bake the Cordon Bleu Chicken at 350 degrees F until cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer (this one is my favorite), about 30-35 minutes.  Check the chicken the last 10 minutes and top with foil if needed to prevent excess browning.
showing how to make chicken cordon bleu recipe by lining the chicken on a baking rack to bake
  • Step 8: Dijon Cream Sauce.  Whisk all of the ingredients together in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer until thickened.
showing how to make chicken cordon bleu recipe by adding the Dijon cream sauce to a saucepan and simmering to thicken
  • Step 9: Serve.  Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before slicing.  Serve the Dijon sauce over the chicken oozing with gooey Gruyere cheese and hot roasted ham and prepare to knock your socks off!
up close of a cordon bleu chicken made with Swiss cheese and ham
  • Pound chicken thin. This tenderizes the chicken, ensures it cooks evenly, and creates a larger surface for the ham and cheese.  Expect the chicken to spread out significantly in order to achieve ¼-inch thickness.
  • Prepare your baking sheet before you start breading the chicken.   This will allow you to transfer the chicken to the baking rack as your finish breading it – this will help prevent it from becoming soggy.  Don’t forget to spray your pan with nonstick cooking spray first! 
  • If you don’t have wire rack, line a baking sheet with lightly grease foil and place in the oven to get nice and hot while you bread the chicken.  Take care when adding the chicken because your pan will be HOT!
  • Pan fry panko. This one step makes a HUGE difference in the end result, please don’t skip!
  • Avoid gummy hands. Use one hand to touch the wet chicken and place it in the breading and the other hand to pile breading over top before pushing the breading into the chicken. This ensures the breading doesn’t get gummy because gummy breading = not as crunchy Chicken Cordon Bleu.
  • Don’t overcook the chicken. Chicken breasts are juiciest when not overcooked. The best and most efficient way to check for doneness is to insert a meat thermometer into the chicken; chicken breasts are done when they register 160 degrees F, then allowed to rest to carryover to 165 degrees.  This digital probe thermometer is my favorite that you always see me using on Instagram because it stays in the chicken as it bakes and alerts you when it reaches temperature.  You’ll never overcook or undercook any protein again!
  • Don’t skip the Chicken Cordon Bleu Sauce. It marries all of the flavors and textures together for a spectacular finish – so please don’t skip! 
  • Adjust consistency of Chicken Cordon Bleu Sauce. Simmer the sauce until it reaches desired consistency – simmer for longer for thicker sauce and less time for thinner sauce. If you find it’s not thickening to your liking, remove it from heat.  It will thicken up in just a couple minutes.  You can return it to heat to thin again as needed or add a splash of milk.
  • HAM: Substitute the black forest ham for honey baked ham, bacon or prosciutto. You can even get fancy with different spiced hams like Cajun, peppered, etc.
  • CHEESE: Substitute the Gruyere for provolone, mozzarella, cheddar, pepper Jack, cream cheese, etc.
  • BREADCRUMBS:  Swap some of the panko breadcrumbs for nuts like I do in this Pistachio Crusted Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe. You can also use pecans or almonds.
  • ADD-INS. Add a thin layer over the ham of your favorite ingredients like chopped sun-dried tomatoes, olives, spinach, asparagus, etc.
  • MIX UP THE SAUCE. Make the sauce cheesy with Parmesan, Gruyere or cheddar or mix up the flavor profile with Cajun Seasoning, taco seasoning, etc.
top view of serving chicken cordon bleu recipe by slicing and spooning over chicken cordon bleu sauce

Our favorite sides with this Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe are Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Balsamic Roasted Carrots and Apple Salad. Here are a few more tasty ideas:

up close of cordon bleu chicken on a plate served with mashed potatoes
serving chicken cordon bleu with chicken cordon bleu sauce

WANT TO TRY THIS Chicken Cordon Bleu RECIPE?

PIN IT to your recipe BOARD TO SAVE FOR LATER!

FIND ME ON PINTEREST FOR MORE GREAT RECIPES!  I AM ALWAYS PINNING :)!

©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

serving baked chicken cordon bleu on a plate with mashed potatoes

Chicken Cordon Bleu

Servings: 4 -6 servings
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes

Save This Recipe To Your Recipe Box

You can now create an account on our site and save your favorite recipes all in one place!

Ingredients

CHICKEN ROLLS

  • 4 medium chicken breasts (6-7 oz. each)
  • 8 slices (12 ounces) deli cut Black Forest ham (like Boars Head)
  • 1 1/4 cups freshly shredded Swiss Gruyere cheese
  • toothpicks
  • Fresh parsley for garnish if desired

PANKO BREADING

  • 1 1/4 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp EACH dried parsley, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp EACH salt, pepper

DIJON WASH

DIJON CREAM SAUCE

  • 1 cup LOW SODIUM chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup heavy cream (or evaporated milk or half and half mixed with 1 TBS cornstarch)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp EACH dried basil, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp EACH salt, pepper

Instructions

  • Prep: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Top a rimmed baking sheet with a baking rack and lightly spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  • Flatten Chicken: Place chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound to an even thickness of 1/4-inch using the flat side of a meat mallet or side of a can (they will spread out a lot).
  • Layer: Lay 2 slices of ham over each chicken breast. Evenly line a heaping ¼ cup shredded cheese down the center of the ham, leaving about 1/2-inch border on all sides.
  • Roll Chicken: Starting on the smaller end of the chicken, tightly roll up, folding the ham over the cheese on the end (to prevent it from oozing out). Secure with toothpicks.
  • Panko Breading: In a large skillet, melt 1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter in 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the panko and stir to coat. Continue cooking until the crumbs become golden brown, then immediately transfer to a large shallow dish (like a cake pan or pie plate). Once cool, stir in the Parmesan and breading spices.
  • Dijon Wash: In a separate large shallow dish, whisk together 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons honey, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Working with one chicken roll at a time, add chicken to the Dijon Wash and brush to evenly coat.
  • Bread Chicken: Transfer to the breading and press the crumbs into all sides, turning as needed. Transfer to the prepared baking rack, leaving a few inches between each roll.
  • Bake: Bake chicken at 350 degrees F until cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer (this one is my favorite), about 30-35 minutes. Check the chicken the last 10 minutes of baking, and top with foil if necessary to prevent excess browning. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing. The last few minutes of baking, make the Dijon Cream Sauce (or make early and reheat):
  • Dijon Cream Sauce: Whisk all of the ingredients together in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer until thickened. The sauce will be on the thin side, but will thicken once removed from the heat.
  • Serve: Serve the Dijon Cream Sauce over the sliced chicken; garnish with parsley if desired.

Video

Notes

  • STORAGE: Store in a single layer in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days. 
  • TO FREEZE: You can freeze the chicken before or after baking, but after baking should be reserved for leftovers: Flash freeze the crusted chicken on a baking rack for 2-3 hours or until solid, taking care the chicken isn’t touching.  Wrap each chicken roll tightly in plastic wrap, then place in a ziploc bag; squeeze out any excess air.  Freeze for up to 3 months.  When ready to enjoy, thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bake or reheat according to recipe directions. 
  • To REHEAT: Microwave:  Transfer chicken slices to a microwave safe plate in an even layer. Microwave for 60 seconds, then at 10 second intervals as needed. Air fryer: Place chicken slices in a single layer in the basket without touching, air fry using the “snack” setting for 4 minutes, or until warmed through.  Oven: Place chicken slices on a baking rack set in a baking sheet in an even layer. Bake at 300 degrees F for approximately 8 minutes or until heated through. If baking whole chicken rolls (not slices), then bake closer to 15-20 minutes.

Meal Prep

Cordon Bleu Chicken is best if breaded right before baking (for optimal crunchy breading), but you can prep all the components ahead of time, then it’s just quick dip, roll and bake!
  • Breading: Toast the panko, cool, and store in an airtight container at room temperature. Grate the cheese and refrigerate in an airtight container. Measure the spices and store in an airtight container.
  • Roll chicken: Roll the chicken and secure with toothpicks. Wrap individual pieces tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
  • Wash: Combine and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  • Dijon Cream Sauce:  The sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  When ready to use, gently rewarm in a skillet, adding additional milk or broth as needed to thin.

Did You Make This Recipe?

Tag @CarlsbadCravings and Use #CarlsbadCravngs

Leave a Review, I Always Love Hearing From You!

Reader Interactions

leave a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

14 Comments

  1. Becca Rose says

    Made these last night and everyone loved them! So delicious! The chicken turned out perfectly moist. Substituted the cream for evaporated milk as suggested if don’t have cream for the sauce and it turned out awesome. Will definitely be making this again! Thank you!

    • Jen says

      Yay! Thank you, Becca! I am so happy that it’s a repeat! Thanks for making my recipes and taking the time to comment!

  2. Katie says

    Hi Jen! I have made lots of your recipes. You have helped me become a better and more confident cook with all the detail you include in your blog. So I’m very appreciate of that! Anyways, I made this Chicken Cordon Bleu for a dinner party last night and it was probably my favorite thing I’ve ever made! Everyone was so complimentary! I prepped a lot in stages ahead of time like you suggested and that way it was quick to throw together when everyone was here.
    Thank you for creating another great recipe! I can’t wait to make this again!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much, Katie! I am so happy to hear that you are enjoying my recipes and that this was a winner! Thank you for showering me with compliments – it makes my day!

  3. John Nanasi says

    I’ve been making chicken cordon blue for years, but I decided to try your recipe. Glad I did. The panko breading was really good and the creamy Dijon sauce was 5 out of 5 stars (although I did add a bit more Dijon than called for). There was some left over and I’ll be trying it on some grilled salmon. It got a thumbs up from the lady of the house, so I’ll definitely be making cordon blue this way from now on.

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for the awesome review, John! I am so happy you enjoyed it and that the Dijon sauce is 5-star worthy – yay!!

  4. Linda says

    This recipe came out fantastic and delicious! My first time attempting cordon bleu and your directions were very clear-cut! This is going in the rotation now! Thank you!

    • Jen says

      I love hearing that, thank you so much Linda!

  5. Jill says

    I have been making chicken cordon bleu for many years and my husband enjoys it, but I always found it dry. This recipe takes it to a whole other level! It is delicious and this is the way I will make it from now on!! Thank you for sharing this!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much, Jill! I am so thrilled that this recipe is a winner!

  6. Laura Martin says

    I am making this tonight and I’m so excited to try it! I made your Chicken a la King earlier in the week and it was awesome! You are my “go to girl” these days! Keep it up!!

    • Jen says

      Yay! I am so glad you are loving the recipes! I hope this one is a hit!!

  7. Anna says

    Made this for Dinner Party for 24 guests, they’ve been talking about it for six months! Super easy however I didn’t prep ahead of party. I’ll be making it for a party of 14 Friday, will definitely prep ahead this time. YOUR RECIPES ROCK & are easy/fun to make! Thank you

    • Jen says

      I’m so happy to hear that it left such an impression! Thank you so much, and I hope you have an amazing dinner party!