Do you think a chicken cordon bleu recipe is too fussy for regular family dinners?
Maybe it’s the fancy name or the process of rolling up cheese and ham inside a chicken breast that puts you off?
Well, making my chicken cordon bleu is a snap even during a busy weeknight – with plenty of leftovers for you to take to work the next day.
That’s because I used a few shortcuts, like buying thinly sliced chicken breast at the store, so I didn’t have to pound the chicken.
I also used deli ham slices and sliced cheese that we usually have on hand for sandwiches.
What could be easier?
What is chicken cordon bleu?
According to Real Food Real Kitchens, the origins of cordon bleu was a Swiss schnitzel filled with cheese around the 1940s. The recipe first appears in a cookbook in 1949. The earliest reference to “chicken cordon bleu” in The New York Times was in 1967.
Veal cordon bleu recipes date back to 1955, according to ErinNudi.com. The veal was swapped out for the chicken in Moscow. Erin writes:
“Chicken cordon bleu as we know it today consists of breaded chicken breasts pounded thin, stuffed with a slice of ham and a slice of Swiss cheese. It can be baked or fried, and often has a creamy sauce poured over it…
…The dish that likely best inspired chicken cordon bleu is Chicken Kiev. Chicken Kiev is chicken stuffed with seasoned or herbed butter, dredged in breadcrumbs, and fried.”
Some recipes have you butterfly the chicken breasts, then stuff them with the ham and cheese. While other recipes have you roll the chicken with the ham and cheese, pinwheel style, like my chicken cordon bleu recipe does.
Then the recipes call for dredging (that’s dipping) the chicken in an egg and flour mixture then rolling them in breadcrumbs.
I kept it easy by rolling my chicken breasts in just panko style breadcrumbs and skipping the egg entirely. This way, it’s easier, less messy, and it cuts back on a few calories.
Finally, some recipes call for topping the chicken cordon bleu with a cream sauce. Yummy, but that adds more work (and calories).
I felt that melting a slice of cheese on the cooked chicken cordon bleu recipe is much easier, a little more wholesome, and just as delicious.
How to make chicken cordon bleu
Chicken breasts vs. chicken breast halves. A breast of chicken consists of two halves connected by a breast bone. So what is labeled skinless, boneless chicken breast is actually a half a breast. In this recipe, each cordon bleu chicken uses half a breast.
If you cannot find thinly sliced chicken breasts, you’ll need to pound each breast to 1/4 inch thickness with a meat mallet.
Placing the chicken breast in a Ziploc baggie and pounding it with a flat meat pounder (not one with sharp spikes) is probably the easiest way to do it. This way you don’t have little pieces of raw chicken (YUCK!) flying all over your kitchen as you pound it.
I used black forest style ham slices. Feel free to use any variety of ham slices you like honey or brown sugar.
This Mama’s tips for making easy chicken cordon bleu
If you can’t find this product at your store or don’t have time to buy online, make your own breadcrumbs with gluten free bread. Toast 3-4 slices of bread, then grind them in a food processor.
If you’re not gluten free, use regular panko style bread crumbs. Panko is commonly sold at most grocery stores, but if you can’t find it, using regular canned breadcrumbs is fine.
Use leftover baby spinach for a side salad. You can also julienne (slice thinly) the spinach as a garnish.
If spinach isn’t your thing (or the kids can’t stand it), use another vegetable they like, like shredded carrots or thinly sliced sweet peppers. Any way you can sneak in some veggies is a good thing!
Chicken Cordon Bleu Recipe
- Cooking spray
- 8 thinly sliced, skinless boneless chicken breast halves
- Salt and ground pepper
- 12 slices sliced Swiss cheese of your choice (baby, ultra thin, aged, or reduced fat)
- 8 deli slices of cooked ham (any variety)
- 1 package baby spinach leaves
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- 1/2 cup gluten free panko style crumbs
- 3/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a large baking or casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.
- Sprinkle each chicken breast half on both sides with salt and pepper. Place 1 cheese slice and then 1 ham slice on top of each breast. (Fold ham slice over to fit the cheese slice, if necessary.) Place spinach leaves (as many as will fit – 1 or 2 layers) on top of ham. Then roll up and secure chicken breast half with a toothpick.
- Arrange chicken breast halves in the baking dish. Pour apple juice over breasts.
- Place panko style bread crumbs and poultry seasoning in a small bowl and mix thoroughly. Sprinkle combination evenly on top of each rolled chicken breast half.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes until a thermometer inserted into centers reads 160 degrees F.
- Cut 4 remaining cheese slices in half. Put a half a slice on each rolled chicken breast half. Place baking dish back in oven for 5 minutes until the cheese has melted.
- Remove toothpicks from the chicken cordon bleu. Serve immediately.
- Serving size: 1 to 2 rolled chicken breast halves
Originally published on October 28, 2016. Updated with new pictures and information.