Darren Bent gave the home side a shock lead completely against the run of play in the 18th minute with his second goal in as many games after his summer switch from Spurs and the Black Cats somehow managed to hold out until the interval.
But the waves of attacks for the visitors finally breached the home defence seven minutes after the break with Michael Ballack drilling home at the far post after Lampard's corner had been flicked on by Branislav Ivanovic.
The England international then stepped up to slot home a penalty after Didier Drogba had been felled by a tiring George McCartney as the Ivory Coast international twisted and turned his way into the box.
And Deco, one of four changes to Carlo Ancelotti's starting line-up, added the finishing flourish with a sublime strike from the edge of the box 20 minutes from time after a multitude of Chelsea passes.
Steve Bruce's men, as well as the bulk of a crowd of 41,179, had dared to hope a first win over one of the big four since their return to the top flight was on the cards after Bent's 18th-minute opener.
But ultimately they were well beaten as the Blues belatedly rediscovered the form that largely deserted them at the weekend.
Having seen what Hull City did to Chelsea on Saturday, when they were only denied a point at Stamford Bridge by Drogba's injury-time winner, Bruce set out to do exactly the same.
DominatedBy the time he got his players back into the dressing room at half-time, things could hardly have gone much better.
The visitors, who replaced Ricardo Carvalho with Ivanovic at the back - perhaps in an attempt to limit the blossoming Bent-Kenwyne Jones partnership - and introduced Ballack, Deco and Salomon Kalou further up the field, understandably dominated possession.
But, crucially, they were unable to make the pressure tell as the Black Cats defended from the front in numbers and with real tenacity. However, they also managed to force their way ahead in what proved to be a rare excursion behind the Chelsea defence.
The visitors may have considered themselves a little unfortunate when Jones' 18th-minute shot on the turn, which was blocked at source by John Terry, ran invitingly into Bent's path.
But Michael Essien was caught cold as the striker, who adopted a position wide on the left for much of the game, pounced to slide a shot past keeper Petr Cech.
Chelsea's response was committed, but largely off-target, Deco sending a 21st-minute snap-shot well wide as Marton Fulop enjoyed a relatively comfortable opening 45 minutes.
However, he needed the help of Lee Cattermole, like Bent making his debut at the Stadium of Light, to preserve his clean sheet seven minutes before the break.
Deco's corner was cleared to Ballack on the edge of the penalty area and his stinging volley looked destined for the back of the net until the midfielder, who had been stationed at the back post for the set-piece, cleared off the line.
The home side left the pitch to warm applause at the break but neither they nor the supporters who cheered their efforts expected anything other than a backlash from the visitors when the teams returned to resume hostilities.
ProbingChelsea picked up exactly where they had left off, pinning Sunderland back and probing for a way through.
Lampard drilled a long-range shot into the side-netting within seconds and then provided the cross from which Ivanovic forced Fulop into his first save of the game with a 49th-minute downward header.
Drogba powered a header just over the bar from the resulting corner and youngster Jordan Henderson got a vital toe to a Lampard cross to deny Ashley Cole a clear sight of goal.
However, the breakthrough finally arrived with 52 minutes gone when Ivanovic climbed to help on Lampard's corner and Ballack steered a left-foot volley past Cattermole, who was unable to repeat his heroics on the post.
Chelsea sensed their opportunity and flexed their muscles once again, and they took the lead only nine minutes later.
Drogba's trickery tempted McCartney into an untidy challenge inside the box and referee Steve Bennett had little choice but to point to the spot. Lampard stepped up to beat Fulop and ease the visitors in front for the first time on the night.
Drogba could have wrapped up the points with 23 minutes remaining but headed Ashley Cole's inviting cross down into the turf and over the bar, but Sunderland's respite was short-lived.
There were 20 minutes remaining when full-back Jose Bosingwa found Deco on the edge of the penalty area, and he took a controlling touch before firing home a third goal off the foot of the post from 18 yards.
Sunderland battled all the way to the whistle but the contest was over long before Bennett put them out of their misery.
SunderlandTeam StatisticsChelsea1Goals311st Half Goals01Shots on Target61Shots off Target122Blocked Shots81Corners1415Fouls113Offsides12Yellow Cards20Red Cards054Passing Success86.923Tackles1373.9Tackles Success76.925.4Possession74.642.5Territorial Advantage57.5