Oscar put the Blues ahead seven minutes after half-time, and John Obi Mikel sealed the win with a rare goal just before the end.
Fulham were left to rue a missed chance for Darren Bent in the first half, when the England striker shot too close to Petr Cech when one-on-one with the Chelsea keeper.
Jose Mourinho’s side were settled by Oscar’s strike, and could have had more but for a couple of fine saves from Fulham keeper David Stockdale.
Roman Abramovich did not appear impressed watching down from his seat, but Oscar’s third of the season and Mikel’s third for the club in more than 300 appearances were enough for the Blues to get back on track.
After two “ugly” results – the recent defeats, which followed a draw at Manchester United and a European Super Cup penalty shoot-out loss to Bayern Munich – this was far from pretty.
Mourinho left out Juan Mata and David Luiz, both of whom sat behind the bench having failed to satisfy their manager’s tactical demands.
In the first half, it looked like Chelsea could have done with them, Mata for his guile and Luiz for his ability to play a defence-splitting pass.
Samuel Eto’o, profligate in the loss at Everton and anonymous against Basel, next had an opportunity to put the Blues in front but Stockdale did just enough to deflect Branislav Ivanovic’s cross away at the near post.
Andre Schurrle, nominally starting in Mata’s place on the right wing with Mourinho preferring Oscar as his number 10, kicked thin air when an Ivanovic cross was played towards him at waist height before Fulham had the chance of the half.
Bent was played through by Pajtim Kasami and had enough pace to surge clear, but Cech held his weak shot. It was a fluffed chance which illustrated the on-loan Aston Villa striker is still to find form after a number of niggles this term, yet still John Terry appeared ruffled every time Bent was lurking.
Chelsea had numerous opportunities themselves but did not test Stockdale, with Fulham time and again getting in crucial blocks.
Having performed well in the first period, Stockdale was culpable for the opening goal.
Schurrle cut in from the left and fired right-footed straight at the Fulham goalkeeper, who failed to hold the ball, allowing Eto’o to follow up. The Cameroon striker’s effort was blocked by Stockdale, but Oscar bundled the ball in via a deflection as the Brazil forward extended his fine start to a campaign.
Moments later, Fulham should have levelled but Steve Sidwell, unmarked at the far post with Chelsea’s defenders occupied by Brede Hangeland, headed Kasami’s free-kick wide.
Stockdale made a fine reaction save to deny Fernando Torres from Oscar’s corner, resulting in another set-piece. Frank Lampard’s cross was headed down by Terry for Mikel to scissor-kick the ball in.
The Nigeria midfielder’s previous goals were in successive FA Cup rounds in January 2007 against Macclesfield and Nottingham Forest and in the remaining minutes Mikel was urged to shoot by the Stamford Bridge faithful, even when in his more customary position protecting the back four.