This easy chicken cordon bleu pasta casserole is a delightful fusion of the classic chicken cordon bleu flavors and the comfort of a pasta bake. With tender chicken, savory ham, and gooey Swiss cheese all nestled among perfectly cooked pasta, this dish offers a mouthwatering experience that's both fun and sophisticated.
The chicken cordon bleu pasta casserole is a modern twist on the traditional French dish, chicken cordon bleu, which dates back to the 1940s.
This innovative recipe brings together the classic flavors of succulent chicken, savory ham, and creamy Swiss cheese, but with the added comfort and heartiness of a pasta bake.
It's a versatile dish that can be enjoyed throughout the year, making it perfect for family dinners, potlucks, or even holiday gatherings.
The easiness of this recipe and crowd-pleasing flavors make this dish a fantastic option for any event, from casual get-togethers to more formal occasions.
So, break away from tradition and delight your guests with this delicious and contemporary take on a beloved classic.
Chicken breast: The main protein, providing a tender and juicy texture that's perfect for this hearty meal.
Cooked ham: Adds a salty and savory dimension, complementing the chicken and creating a classic chicken cordon bleu flavor profile.
Small pasta: Quick-cooking pasta shapes that absorb the delicious flavors well, making every bite delectable.
Unsalted butter: Provides richness and depth of flavor, enhancing the overall taste.
Shallots: Offer a sweet and mild onion flavor that complements the other ingredients in the sauce.
Garlic cloves: Bring a pungent and savory aroma, adding complexity to the dish.
Chicken stock: Creates a rich and flavorful base for the pasta sauce, bringing everything together.
Heavy cream: Boosts the sauce's creaminess, giving it a luxurious and indulgent touch.
Swiss cheese: A classic choice for chicken cordon bleu, melts beautifully and imparts a nutty and savory taste.
Panko breadcrumbs: Lend a crispy and crunchy texture to the top of the dish, contrasting nicely with the creamy pasta.
Fresh parsley: Adds color and freshness to the finished dish, brightening up the flavors.
Olive oil: Adds flavor and helps to cook the chicken and shallots, creating a delicious base for the dish.
Sea salt and black pepper: Essential seasonings that enhance the overall flavor profile and bring out the best in each ingredient.
See recipe card for quantities.
Begin by preheating your oven to 400˚F.
In a large, oven-safe skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat, creating a base for the flavors to come together.
Add the finely diced shallots and minced garlic to the skillet, seasoning them with salt and pepper.
Cook the shallots and garlic for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the shallots soften and release their aroma.
Next, add the cubed chicken and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it takes on a light golden color.
Introduce the diced ham and chicken stock to the skillet, increasing the savory factor of the dish.
Raise the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil.
Once boiling, add your choice of small pasta and reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer, ensuring the pasta cooks evenly.
Cover the skillet and let the pasta cook until al dente, about 10-12 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent any pasta from sticking.
Uncover the skillet and mix in the heavy cream, giving the sauce a rich, creamy texture. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning as desired.
Stir in half of the Swiss cheese, enhancing the dish's creamy goodness.
Top the dish with the remaining Swiss cheese and a sprinkle of panko breadcrumbs, creating a crispy finish.
Place the skillet into the preheated oven and bake until the cheese is melted and the breadcrumbs are lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes.
Remove the dish from the oven and garnish with a sprinkle of fresh parsley. Serve your delicious chicken cordon bleu pasta casserole and enjoy!
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Choose quality ingredients: Elevate your dish by selecting high-quality chicken, ham, and Swiss cheese. Fresh shallots, garlic, and parsley make a noticeable difference in the overall flavor profile.
Don't overcook the chicken: Cook the chicken just until it develops a light golden color before adding the ham and stock. This ensures tender, juicy chicken in the final dish.
Perfectly cooked pasta: Keep a close eye on your pasta as it simmers to ensure it reaches that ideal al dente texture. Remember, it will continue to cook in the oven, so avoiding overcooking is key.
Customize your pasta: Feel free to get creative with your choice of small pasta shapes. Ditalini or small shells work great, but other options like orecchiette or farfalle can add a fun twist.
Season to taste: Tasting your sauce and adjusting the seasoning as you go is crucial for achieving a well-balanced and flavorful dish that suits your preferences.
Achieve the perfect crust: Distribute the panko breadcrumbs evenly and don't be afraid to use a generous amount. This will create a beautifully crispy and golden-brown crust that contrasts with the creamy pasta.
Here are some possible substitutions for the chicken cordon bleu pasta bake recipe that can still yield a delicious result:
- Chicken breast: You can swap chicken breast for chicken thighs, turkey breast, or even a plant-based protein like tofu or tempeh for a vegetarian version.
- Cooked ham: Try using cooked turkey, prosciutto, or bacon as an alternative. For a vegetarian option, consider using smoked tofu or a meat substitute like seitan.
- Chicken stock: Vegetable stock or broth can be used as a substitute for chicken stock, making the dish suitable for vegetarians.
- Small pasta: Feel free to use any small pasta shape you prefer or have available, such as macaroni, fusilli, or farfalle.
- Heavy cream: For a lighter option, you can use half-and-half, whole milk, or a non-dairy alternative like almond milk or coconut milk.
- Swiss cheese: Gruyère, Emmental, or fontina cheese can be used as substitutes for Swiss cheese. For a unique twist, try using mozzarella, provolone, or Gouda.
Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta Casserole
- 1 tablespoon Olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Unsalted butter
- 2 medium shallots finely diced
- 2 medium garlic cloves minced
- 10 ounces chicken breast cubed
- ½ cup Cooked ham diced
- 3 cups chicken stock low sodium preferred
- 7 ounces Small pasta such as ditalini or small shells
- ½ cup Heavy cream
- 6 ounces Swiss cheese grated, divided
- 3 tablespoons Panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup Fresh parsley chopped
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400˚F.
- Warm olive oil and butter in a large, oven-safe skillet over medium heat.
- Add shallots and garlic, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir occasionally, cooking until shallots soften (about 2-3 minutes).
- Incorporate chicken, stirring occasionally, until slightly colored (another 2-3 minutes).
- Mix in ham and chicken stock.
- Raise heat to high, bringing the mixture to a boil.
- Add pasta and lower heat to maintain a steady simmer.
- Cover and cook pasta until al dente (10-12 minutes), stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
- Uncover and blend in heavy cream. Adjust seasoning as needed.
Mix in half of the Swiss cheese.
- Layer remaining Swiss cheese and sprinkle breadcrumbs on top.
- Bake until cheese melts and breadcrumbs turn golden brown (8-10 minutes).
- Remove from oven, garnish with fresh parsley, and enjoy!