Chicken roll ups are some of my favorite dinner recipes because they are simple to make, easy to customize in fun ways, and great freezer meals! I’m sharing all my tips and tricks for making them AND the best chicken roll up recipes!
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CHICKEN ROLL UPS!
A few years ago, I was looking for alternative dinner recipes to add to our menus, when I stumbled upon a chicken roll up recipe. I had seen stuffed chicken before but I had never seen the chicken rolled before.
I loved the idea and immediately started making my own, starting with my Chicken Bacon Roll Ups! It became one of the most popular posts on this site and has remained so over the last 6 years.
Since then, I’ve shared a few different versions and I love all of them!
However, as a whole, they just aren’t that popular. They are always second to stuffed chicken recipes which I think is a shame.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CHICKEN ROLL UPS AND STUFFED CHICKEN?
Stuffed chicken recipes requires you to cut a pocket into a chicken breast where you will “stuff” your filling inside.
With chicken rolls ups, you spread the filling onto the thin breast and roll.
Both can use the same filling and both are essentially cooked the same way. Choosing between the two of them is really a personal preference, but I’ll explain to you why I prefer the roll ups.
WHY I PREFER MAKING A CHICKEN ROLL?
Whenever I make stuffed chicken recipes, I find that the filling isn’t equally distributed throughout the entire chicken breast. Maybe I’m just not as good at making stuffed chicken, but the filling just doesn’t make it as deep into the pocket as I would like.
Since you don’t want the hole or pocket you cut to go all the way through the chicken breast, there is just inevitably chicken that won’t have any filling. This is not the case when you spread the chicken onto the entirety of the breast.
When you are making chicken roll ups, the filling is spread across the entire breast, which means every single bite has filling. It’s just better!
HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN ROLL UPS:
Every recipe will be a little bit different, but the method will usually be pretty similar.
- Make your filling.
- Spread your filling over the chicken breasts.
- Roll the chicken.
Some recipes, like my Chicken Bacon Roll Ups, have an extra step to add a coating to the outside like breading or crushed corn flakes. This process can be a little messy but still doesn’t add much time to the meal prep.
WHAT IF MY CHICKEN ROLL FALLS APART?
I have only had a few rolls ups fall apart on me over the years. They mostly stay together well enough to cook and enjoy.
If you are having a hard time with your chicken rolls though, you can use toothpicks as a temporary stitch to keep the roll together. Just puncture through the last part of your roll and into the rest. Remember to remove before sharing!
HOW TO COOK CHICKEN ROLL UPS?
Now that the chicken rolls have been prepared, cooking them is really easy. It’s a place and cook situation. You don’t have to carefully watch over them.
I am sharing how to cook your chicken rolls ups in the oven, in the slow cooker, in the air fryer and in the instant pot! There are really a lot of ways to cook them which makes them great all year long, even when you don’t want to turn your oven on.
Down below at the bottom you will also find recipes specific to these different cooking methods. However, most recipes can be used in any of the cooking methods with maybe a few small tweaks, such as adding a little broth to slow cookers.
CAN YOU COOK THEM IN THE OVEN?
The oven is my go to method for cooking the chicken. You will just place them in an oven safe baking dish seam down – I normally use my Pyrex dishes – and then put them in the preheated oven.
Chicken roll ups should be cooked and ready to eat after 25-30 minutes in a 350 F oven. However, it is always important to use a meat thermometer to check that the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 F.
CAN YOU COOK THEM IN THE CROCK POT OR SLOW COOKER?
Yes! Cooking them in the crock pot or slow cooker will take 4-6 hours on low. I would recommend adding at least a little liquid to the slow cooker though; chicken broth would be the easiest liquid to add.
CAN YOU COOK THEM IN THE AIR FRYER?
Yes! You can! I have not done this a lot but you can definitely use your air fryer. I find that cooking them in the air fryer at 400 degrees F for 12 minutes gets cooks the chicken well.
As always, make sure you use that meat thermometer to make sure they are cooked to 165 F.
There are air fryer recipes included down below as well so make sure to check them out for even more tips and tricks if you want to use an air fryer!
CAN YOU COOK THEM IN THE INSTANT POT?
Now, I will be honest with you all, I do not have an instant pot. However, I asked a friend who has done this and the answer is yes! Of course!
They cooked their chicken rolls in the instant pot on “manual” high pressure for 8 minutes. Then allowed it to naturally release for 5 minutes before moving tab to “venting”.
If you have any experience and want to shed more light or tips on this below, please comment so I can add it up here! Like I said, I am not an instant pot expert so any tips or tricks are most welcome!
I’ve also included instant pot recipes below so make sure to check them out for detailed instant pot instructions.
DO I HAVE TO BUY THIN CHICKEN BREASTS?
No! You don’t have to buy thin chicken breasts but you will want to use thin chicken breasts that are about 1/4″ thick when making chicken rolls. However, it does make the whole process a lot easier. So if you have the choice, purchasing thin chicken breasts!
Alternatively, you could use traditional chicken breasts and do one of two things:
- Flatten the chicken breast until thin enough to roll it up using a meat tenderizer and a plastic bag.
- Turn it into a stuffed chicken recipe and cut a pocket into the chicken breast for the herbed cream cheese and bacon filling. Cooking time should be the same, but make sure to always check the internal temp!
CAN YOU FREEZE CHICKEN ROLL UPS?
Yes! It is actually one of the many reasons that I love chicken roll recipes!
Since we’ve had out second kid, freezer meals have become an essential part of our lives. Chicken roll ups always make it into the rotation, so I’ve included my process for freezing them below.
HOW TO FREEZE:
First, the recipe as instructed up to the cooking/baking.
Then, store your chicken breasts in a freezer storage bag until you are ready to defrost and cook. I normally store enough chicken breasts for dinner in one bag.
However, if you find that your dinner count fluctuates, you could individually wrap each chicken roll up in plastic wrap or freezer paper first and then store in a freezer storage bag. This will make it easiest to pull them out individually as needed.
Frozen chicken rolls should be good for at least a month in your freezer before baking. When you are ready to eat them, defrost and bake in the oven as instructed in the recipe.
WHAT ARE THE BEST FILLINGS?
You don’t need a strict recipe to create a delicious dinner! They are so versatile and easy to pull together.
When deciding what to put inside, just think about how you normally enjoy chicken. There are really so many options that you can’t go too wrong if you are using a different chicken recipe for inspiration.
I’ve included some of our favorite toppings below. However, many people prefer cooking from a recipe though and there are some great ones out there so at the bottom of this post you will also find a ton of recipes to get you started as well!
- SAUCES – pesto sauce, marinara sauce, Alfredo sauce
- CHEESES – mozzarella, feta, goat cheese, ricotta, cheddar, etc!
- MEATS – bacon, prosciutto, ham
- VEGGIES – spinach, bell peppers, asparagus, broccoli
- CREAM CHEESE – especially savory flavored cream cheese
- OTHER – stuffing, sun dried tomatoes,
- TOPPINGS – zest from a lemon, lime or orange, corn flakes, Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
HELPFUL ITEMS FOR MAKING CHICKEN ROLL UPS:
MEAT THERMOMETER – I love this meat thermometer and always have it on hand when cooking any meat. For this recipe, make sure your chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 F.
MEAT TENDERIZER AND A FREEZER BAG – If you plan on flattening your chicken breasts to use for a chicken roll, then you definitely want a reliable meat tenderizer and this one is my fave because it’s strong and comfortable.
If tenderizing, I suggest using a strong plastic storage bag versus plastic wrap over your chicken while hitting it with the mallet is a lot easier and cleaner in my opinion!
PYREX DISHES or OTHER GREAT BAKEWARE – I’ve grown up using Pyrex in my mother’s house and her set has lasted over 40 years. They are work horses – dependable and easy to use! That’s why I now have my own set that I use for most of my oven needs and especially when cooking chicken.
AIR FRYER CHICKEN ROLL UP RECIPES
While almost any of these recipe can be cooked in the air fryer, these recipes were specifically designed for the kitchen appliance. These recipes will give you more detailed tips for how to cook chicken roll ups in the air fryer.
SLOW COOKER CHICKEN ROLL UP RECIPES
If you love your slow cooker like I do, these recipes are created specifically for cooking in the slow cooker or crock pot.
INSTANT POT CHICKEN ROLL UP RECIPES
Cook your chicken even faster by cooking them in your instant pot!