Hello and welcome to yet another edition of the smoking meat newsletter where I am going to show you how to make smoked chicken cordon bleu. This dish has been a favorite for ages in many countries and while it is quite simple to make, it is fancy enough to be served at a nice dinner party or get together.
Cordon bleu can be made with chicken, pork, veal and almost any cut of meat but it is most often made using chicken and that is what we will use in this recipe today.
Doing this recipe in the smoker means that you simply leave off the bread crumbs and use some rub instead. I also took the liberty to wrap the whole thing in bacon so as to maintain a lot of moisture and to keep the outside of the chicken breasts from drying out during it’s time in the heat.
When you cut into this smoky succulent piece of goodness and see the melted swiss cheese oozing out around the folds of ham, you will experience for yourself why I love this so much.
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What You’ll Need
- 4-8 chicken breast (1 per person)
- Swiss cheese, sliced
- Ham, sliced
- Bacon (2 slices per chicken breast)
- Jeff’s rub (purchase recipe here)
How to Prepare the Chicken Breasts
Now in order to make chicken cordon bleu, you have a couple of options. You can simply butterfly the chicken breasts and lay them open or you can pound them out until they are about 1/4 inch thick all over.
I chose to pound them out and to do that you simply place one of the chicken breasts inside of a ziploc bag.
Use a meat mallet to lightly pound the meat starting in the center and working toward the outside until it is the right thickness.
Once it is about 1/4 inch thick all over, take the chicken breast out of the bag and lay it on a cutting board for stuffing.
Sprinkle rub (purchase recipe here) on both sides of the chicken breast.
In smoked chicken cordon bleu, it’s all about the ham and the swiss. I really like to smoke my own ham and get slices of that for this step but if you are like me and short on time and short on home smoked ham, use a good deli ham. I used the thin sliced and doubled up on the slices.
I use a single piece of swiss cheese right on top of the ham. If you are a cheese fanatic and want to have more gooey goodness oozing out of the ends at the finish, perhaps put swiss on the bottom, then the ham then another piece of swiss. Your call.
Roll the ham up like a pinwheel. You will probably have a wide end and a more narrow end on the chicken breast pieces. It seems to work better if you start rolling on the wide end and finish with the narrow end.
Lay 2 pieces of bacon parallel and about 1 inch apart. Place the rolled chicken breast across the strips of bacon at about the 1/3 mark or about 3 inches from one of the ends.
Pull the short ends up over the rolled chicken breast.
Roll the stuffed chicken breast across the bacon for about 4 more inches. Once you get about 3-4 inches from the end, pull the pieces toward the center and up over the chicken.
Overlap the ends in the center and secure with a toothpick. Sprinkle a little more rub (purchase recipe here) onto the outside of the bacon for good measure (you can’t get too much of this stuff).
I made these the night before I planned to cook them and placed them in a covered bowl in the fridge when I was finished stuffing and wrapping all of them.
Get the Smoker Ready
Prepare the smoker for cooking at about 225-240 degrees. These can be smoked in any type of smoker as long as you follow the recommended temperatures and make sure to not overcook the meat.
Here’s some information that I have written on various smokers. I hope to include more very soon.
- Bradley 4-Rack Digital Smoker – An electric smoker that is fully automated and keeps the temperature where you set it. It also keeps the smoke flowing via an automated mechanism that moves a new wood puck into the smoker every 20 minutes. See this smoker and read reviews on Amazon.com
- Weber Smokey Mountain 22.5 Smoker – the king of charcoal water smokers. Add charcoal, water and wood and you’re good to go for several hours. 3 dampers on the fire bowl allow you to dial in the air perfectly for maintaining perfect smoking temperatures. See this smoker and read reviews on Amazon.com
- Big Green Egg – Ceramic cooker that uses charcoal. Add lump charcoal, light it and add some wood.. set the top and bottom vent and you’re good to go for hours on end due to the thick walls that hold heat incredibly well.
- Great Outdoors Smoky Mountain Propane Smoker – A propane smoker that works exceptionally well. I have had mine for more than 8 years and it still works great. See this smoker and read reviews on Amazon.com
- More smokers on the way..
Note: In colder weather, it is advisable to preheat the smoker at least an hour or more before you are wanting to use it. Keep the door closed as much as possible and even skip basting if necessary to maintain proper smoking temperatures.
Smoking the Chicken Cordon Bleu
Note: Due to the fact that these are wrapped in bacon, they can handle a lot of smoke and I recommend keeping the smoke going for the entire time if possible.
Place the meat on the grate leaving about 3/4 inch between them to allow the smoke to have full access to them.
Maintain about 225-240 throughout and keep the smoke going. I recommend using a good bold smoke like hickory, pecan or mesquite but any smoking wood will work well.
These should take about 3 hours but keep a close eye on the internal temperature of the chicken using a digital probe meat thermometer and pull them off when they reach 165 degrees. It is ok to pull them a degree or two shy of this if you are worried about overcooking them since they will continue to cook internally for a few minutes.
I don’t worry about making the bacon really crispy, but if that is a requirement for you, you can pull them from the smoker when they reach about 145 degrees and place them on a hot grill to finish or under the broiler for a few minutes. If you do this, continue to monitor the internal temperature and make sure they reach 165 degrees before calling them done.
About Using a Meat Thermometer
Be sure to use a digital probe meat thermometer when making the smoked chicken cordon bleu or any recipe that requires the meat reach a safe temperature. I use a Maverick ET-732 which is a dual probe remote thermometer with the sending unit at the smoker and the receiver in my pocket. This way, I can go about what I need to do and I always know the temperature of my smoker and the meat.
Serving the Smoked Chicken Cordon Bleu
I recommend serving these immediately when they are finished cooking since you want the cheese to still be melty when folks cut into it. Serve with a nice side like steamed asparagus (recipe below).
- Place chicken breast in ziploc back or between 2 pieces of wax paper.
- Pound lightly with a meat mallet until desired thickness is acquired.
- Apply light coat of rub to both sides of chicken breast.
- Lay ham then swiss cheese onto top of chicken breast.
- Roll up chicken breast, ham and cheese like a pinwheel.
- Lay down 2 pieces of bacon parallel and about 1 inch apart
- Place rolled, stuffed chicken breast across bacon about 3 inches from end.
- Pull short ends of bacon up over the chicken breast.
- Roll stuffed chicken breast across bacon until about 4 inches from end.
- Pull bacon pieces up over the center of stuffed chicken breast.
- Overlap ends of bacon and apply a little more rub to outside.
- Push toothpick through bacon and chicken to secure.
- Smoke chicken cordon bleu at 240 degrees for about 3 hours or until it reaches 165 degrees.
- Serve immediately.
Note: Use the thinnest asparagus stalks you can find–they’ll be more tender.
- Rinse asparagus in cold water and trim 1-2 inches from the stalk ends.
- Bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a stockpot.
- Place asparagus in the pot and cover.
- Reduce heat to medium and cook (covered) for 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and drain immediately.
- Drizzle with olive oil or butter.
- Season with kosher salt and coarse pepper to taste.
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Love the original rib rubLove the original rib rub and sauce! We have an annual rib fest competition at the lake every 4th of July. I will say we have won a great percent of the time over the past 15 years so we are not novices by any means. However, we didn't win last year and had to step up our game! We used Jeff's rub and sauce (sauce on the side) and it was a landslide win for us this year! Thanks Jeff for the great recipes. I'm looking forward to trying the Texas style rub in the near future! ~Michelle M.
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Great Resources for Smoking Meat Enthusiasts
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- Smoking Meat: The Essential Guide to Real Barbecue (my book)
- Smoking-Meat.com Facebook Page (25,034 Likes)
- Follow Jeff on Twitter
- Newsletter Archive (All of our past newsletters archived just for you)
- The Smoking Meat Store (Smokers, smoking gadgets, thermometers, etc.)
- StoryQue: A Barbecue Magazine for iPad (Now available in PDF)
- The Smoking Meat Forums