Despite what the fancy French name suggests, cordon bleu is actually a Swiss dish. These stuffed meat cutlets (usually made with chicken or pork) are rolled in breadcrumbs and deep-fried until golden. Beneath its crispy exterior, you’ll find layers of ham and melty cheese.
Though cordon bleu uses only a handful of common ingredients, it’s still fussier than your typical fried chicken, giving it a special space during special occasions. But next time you have a party, don’t order it anymore. Learn to make it from scratch! And even if you’re already a pro, you can find new ways to make your version stand out. Read on for useful tips, tricks, and smart swaps.
How to Make Chicken Cordon Bleu at Home
Step 1: Prepare your chicken.
Opt for boneless, skinless chicken breasts for fuss-free prep. Generously season them with salt, pepper, and other spices of your choosing. Place them on a cutting board, then pound them into ½-inch rounds using a meat mallet or rolling pin.
Step 2: Add the ham and cheese.
Layer 1-2 slices of Swiss cheese over the pounded chicken. Follow with 1-2 slices of ham. Repeat this process until you’re satisfied with the number of layers for each breast.
Step 3: Roll the chicken into logs.
Apply firm pressure for tight, even rolls. Secure with toothpicks to help them keep their shape. Chill for 15-30 minutes to set for easier handling.
Step 4: Set up a breading station.
Prepare three separate dishes for flour, a beaten egg, and breadcrumbs. Use one hand to dredge the chicken in the dry ingredients to minimize mess. Reserve your other hand for the egg mixture. Coat your chicken with flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. Remove toothpicks.
Step 5: Fry until crispy all around.
Heat enough oil in a large pan. Add the breaded chicken and fry until one side is golden brown. Flip to cook the other side. Optionally, finish this dish in the oven to ensure that the chicken is cooked through. Serve hot!
7 Easy Ways to Upgrade Your Cordon Bleu
Swap chicken breast for thigh.
Most cordon bleu recipes use chicken breasts, perhaps to balance out the fattiness of the ham and cheese. But if you want each component to shine, use chicken thighs instead. This part is richer in flavor and much juicier than white meat. Plus, they tend to cost a few pesos less.
Stuff with smoked bacon.
Sweet ham is the traditional choice, but bacon takes this dish to a new level. It still adds a fatty, salty-sweet element to your chicken cordon bleu while also bringing in smoky umami. You can also use the honey-cured variety for an even sweeter surprise.
Add vegetables to your stuffing.
Looking for easy ways to add more veggies to your daily meals? Sneak them into your chicken rolls! Spinach, broccoli, carrots, and fresh herbs pair well with all the usual components. Just slice them into bite-sized pieces and tuck them in with the rest of your ingredients.
Use different types of cheese.
Swiss cheese is the default for this dish, but feel free to experiment. Try mozzarella to get a drool-worthy pull when you cut into your rolls. Cheddar cheese will give it a milky, salty, and slightly sweet flavor. Gouda sits between mozzarella and cheddar: it melts beautifully and has a mild, sweet taste. You can also use a blend of cheeses to maximize flavors and textures.
Dial up the crunch factor.
Typical recipes call for standard breadcrumbs. But a few tweaks can make your chicken rolls even crispier. Instead of just any breadcrumbs, go for Japanese panko. They absorb less oil and create an extra crisp, light coating. You can add cornstarch to your flour to make the first layer of batter crunchy, too. You can also use plain unsweetened cornflakes. Just crush them, then roll your chicken in them to double the crunch.
Try different sauces.
If you want to go the classic route, pair your fried chicken with a creamy white sauce. Some recipes use Dijon mustard and garlic, while others add Parmesan. Kids love the simple combo of ketchup and mayonnaise. Try it with a dash of Knorr Liquid Seasoning for savoriness. For a gourmet spin, try a garlicky pesto or a luscious hollandaise. Better yet, whip up a variety of options for your family and friends to try together!
Change your cooking method.
When you’re just learning how to make chicken cordon bleu, deep-frying is the way to go. But don’t be afraid to try other methods that might work even better. For example, minimize cleanup by skipping the rolling and coating altogether. Instead, you can opt for chicken cuts with their skin on for a crispy bite. Butterfly these cuts, layer your fillings on one side, and fold the other side over. Let them cook in a single skillet and flip to get even browning on both sides.
You can also choose to air-fry or bake your breaded rolls. Want to serve them for merienda? Try making crispy balls with ground chicken instead of cutlets. You can follow the same steps but on a smaller scale.
These upgrades breathe new life to everyone’s favorite cordon bleu. Give these tricks a whirl! Some may be far from traditional, but experimenting is part of the fun of being a home cook.