Baked Chicken Cordon Bleu Recipe
You don’t have to be fancy to try out this easy Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe with a Ritz Cracker Crust. (Or, you can use a light panko crust instead!) Deli ham and mozzarella cheese sticks easily fit the bill for what I think is the best Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe around!
What is Chicken Cordon Bleu?
Ever since I first had Chicken Cordon Bleu in college, I’ve been enamored. It was such a wonderful mixture of flavors and textures–crunchy exterior, tender interior, with a melted center. I’d never had such an amazing combination before! Of course, what I had in college was a processed version. Now I’ve learned to make an authentic Chicken Cordon Bleu, the easy way!
For traditional Chicken Cordon Bleu, you pound a chicken breast until it is thin. Then you lay some ham on top, and cover the ham with slices of Swiss cheese.
Then you roll it all up, cover it with breadcrumbs, and bake.
The problem with this method is that it’s messy (all that chicken-pounding), and it’s really hard to get the chicken to stay together and not have all the cheese leak out while baking. When I’ve tried doing it the traditional way, it ended up looking like a Voodoo doll with a bunch of toothpicks sticking out of it everywhere!
I’ve got a WAY easier method for you that doesn’t involve flattening or rolling chicken, and helps avoid that tragic cheese loss!
Here’s what you’ll need:
Ingredients for Chicken Cordon Bleu
- Panko or a sleeve of Ritz Crackers
- Large, Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
- Deli Ham
- Mozzarella String Cheese
- Dijon Mustard
How to Make Chicken Cordon Bleu
Before preheating your oven, you’ll need to move your oven racks to the lowest and middle positions.
Next, set the oven to 450 degrees F.
Melt 6 Tablespoons of butter into a medium-sized (and microwave safe) bowl. You may want to add a cover so the butter doesn’t splatter all over your microwave.
Add 1 and a half cups of panko or a sleeve of crushed Ritz Crackers to the melted butter.
For this recipe, I recommend using a shallow dish or a rimmed, metal baking sheet. Cover the bottom of the sheet or dish with foil.
Pour your panko/butter mixture on the aluminum foil and spread it out, as evenly as possible.
Place the mixture in the oven on the middle rack for 3 to 5 minutes, taking it out halfway to stir. When the crumbs are golden brown, remove them from the oven. If you’re using Ritz Crackers, it can be a little harder to tell when they are done; I wouldn’t leave them in for longer than 5 minutes (but if you do, keep a close eye on them).
Keep your oven on!
With a paring knife, cut into the side of your chicken breasts. This should make a deep pocket that extends almost to the other side of the breast and the full length.
Place two slices of deli ham together and top with one or two mozzarella cheese sticks. Use two sticks for extra cheesy goodness!
Roll the cheese in the ham, tucking the sides under as you roll (your cheese stick should be entirely encased by ham).
Place your ham and cheese stick in the inside pocket of the chicken breast.
Repeat the process with the remaining chicken breasts.
When all breasts have been stuffed, season with salt and pepper, on both sides. Place on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
While the chicken is in the fridge, you can keep busy by preparing containers of flour, buttered panko, and eggs and mustard.
Take one cup of flour and place it on a large plate or into a large plastic container.
Mix the three eggs with two tablespoons of Dijon mustard in a separate large plastic container.
Grab your panko bread crumbs or Ritz Cracker crumbs and put them on a large plate or another separate container.
Once that’s all done, you should have three filled containers, like this:
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator.
Coat the chicken breasts with flour, then the egg/mustard mixture. Lastly, roll and completely cover the chicken in panko. Be sure to lightly press the crumbs onto the chicken.
Set the chicken on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. If you’re worried about your ham and cheese falling out, you can simply use toothpicks to hold the seals closed.
Place the baking sheet on the bottom rack (your oven should still be set to 450 degrees F). Bake for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, turn your oven down to 400 degrees F, open the door and transfer the chicken to the middle rack. Continue baking for 20 to 25 minutes.
Use a meat thermometer to check the thickest part of the breast. You can remove the chicken from the oven when it reaches at least 160 degrees F. The temperature will continue to rise for a few minutes after the chicken is removed from the oven.
Common Chicken Cordon Bleu Questions
Why do I need to move my oven rack to the very bottom spot?
You might be wondering why the very first step of this recipe is to move your oven racks. If you’re like me and you forget to move a rack to the bottom before turning on the oven, you might think to yourself, “Everything is already hot. I can skip this step.”
The reason you don’t skip this step is to avoid one thing: A Soggy Bottom.
Just imagine me doing my best Mary Berry impression right there.
Ok, maybe I shouldn’t be so dramatic. It’s certainly not a total disaster, but definitely not something anyone enjoys.
What to serve with Chicken Cordon Bleu?
Luckily, Chicken Cordon Bleu is an extremely versatile dish and pairs well with many sides.
What kind of cheese typically is used in Chicken Cordon Bleu?
But what I love about Chicken Cordon Bleu is that there really is no right answer. A lot of people use Mozzarella or Provolone.
I know some people just use whatever is already in their fridge! Or they mix cheeses! If you really want to mix things up try goat cheese—and leave a comment below. I definitely want to hear how that tastes.
Can I substitute the ham?
Yes! You can substitute the ham with various other meats (it won’t have the same flavor profile, but that kind of makes it exciting).
(Also, it doesn’t matter if you use smoked ham, black forest ham, or honey ham. It will all taste amazing).
I have been told that smoked turkey is a good alternative.
If you want a similar flavor profile to regular ham, give prosciutto a try.
Is there a substitute for Ritz Crackers?
If you don’t have Ritz Crackers you can use Rice Krispies or crushed Cornflakes.
I supposed you could even use crushed Cheeze-Its or some other flavored chip.
Where do I get Panko, and what is Panko?
Panko is a Japanese word and literally means “little bread.” It’s made from their wonderfully light and fluffy Japanese Milk Bread (if you haven’t tried my recipe, you MUST so you can be transported to heaven!) You can find it in most grocery stores, like Walmart, in the Asian section.
Can I freeze Chicken Cordon Bleu?
Of course. Just keep in mind that if you’re going to freeze it before baking, I highly recommend putting it in a disposable pan (and not on a baking sheet).
The recipe doesn’t change and you’ll follow all the same directions. But instead of baking, place the covered disposable pan in the freezer.
You can put it in your freezer for up to 3 months.
When you’re ready to eat it, let it first thaw in the fridge overnight. Next, remove the cover and bake at 400 degrees F for 55 to 60 minutes. Just remember to flip the chicken breasts when it’s been in the oven for around 25 minutes. (Otherwise, the dreaded soggy bottom will appear!) Once the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F, it’s safe to eat!
- 1 1/2 cups panko (or crushed Ritz Crackers)
- 6 Tablespoons butter
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 8 slices deli ham
- 8 sticks of mozzarella string cheese
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- Adjust your oven racks to the lowest and middle positions. Turn the oven on to 450 degrees F.
- Melt the 6 Tablespoons of butter in a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl (Loosely cover so the butter doesn't splatter).
- Add the 1 1/2 cups panko or crushed Ritz Crackers to the melted butter and mix well.
- Cover a rimmed, sturdy metal baking sheet with aluminum foil. Pour the panko/butter mixture on the aluminum foil and spread out as evenly as possible.
- Place in the oven on the middle rack for 3-5 minutes, removing half-way to stir. When crumbs are golden, remove from the oven. Transfer to a large plate or shallow dish. Leave the oven on.
- Using a paring knife, cut into the side of each chicken breast, making a deep pocket that extends almost to the other side of the breast and the full length of the breast.
- Place two ham slices together and top with one or two mozzarella cheese sticks. (Whether you use one or two depends on how much cheese you want). Roll the cheese up in the ham, tucking the sides under as you roll so that the cheese is entirely encased in the ham.
- Place the ham and cheese inside the pocket of the chicken breast.
- Repeat process with the remaining three chicken breasts.
- When all breasts have been stuffed, season with salt and pepper on both sides. Place on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
- While the chicken is in the refrigerator, prepare your containers of flour, buttered panko, and eggs and mustard.
- Place the 1 cup of flour into a large plasticware container, or on a large plate.
- Mix the three eggs with the 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard in a large plasticware container.
- Place the panko in a large plasticware container, or on a large plate.
- Remove the chicken breasts from the refrigerator.
- Coat first with flour, then the egg mixture, and then the crumbs, pressing the crumbs as necessary so they adhere. Set the chicken on a foil-lined rimmed metal baking sheet. Repeat with all the chicken breasts. If necessary, help seal the open sides of the chicken breast using toothpicks.
- Bake on the bottom rack of your 450-degree F. oven for ten minutes. (This is so the bottom will be crispy and will not come out soggy). Then turn your oven down to 400 degrees F., open the door, and transfer the chicken to the middle rack. Continue baking for 20-25 minutes, until the thickest part of the breast registers 160 degrees F. on a meat thermometer. If the breading begins to get too brown, cover loosely with foil.
- Transfer chicken to a platter, and let rest for five minutes before serving.
You can use shredded mozzarella cheese instead of cheesesticks. However, more cheese may leak out, and you might not get a round center of ham and cheese in the middle of your chicken breast.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 890Total Fat: 42gSaturated Fat: 22gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 347mgSodium: 1607mgCarbohydrates: 55gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 70g