Do you remember Zombies? (the sandwich not the drink)

Reply Sat 7 May, 2011 04:09 pm
My high school's Facebook page is all a twitter over someone obtaining the long sought after recipe for Zombies. Many a person has tried to create imitations of them without success. Basically, they're like big buns of balloon bread with melted cheese in the middle.

Someone wrote to the school district's food service department and asked them for the recipe. The response was that they've received so many requests for it over the years they had to break down the industrial-sized recipe to family size measurements. The food service person said the test of a true zombie baker is to have no "leakers", where the cheese melts out of the dough.

Apparently these Zombie sandwiches were all the rage in school district cafeterias on the West Coast. I don't remember ever having the cheese version but do remember the Sloppy Joe version.

Did the cafeteria in your school ever serve up sandwiches like these? They were favorite companions with tomato soup.

Here's a photo of the bun type Zombie:




To make 2 ½ pounds of dough:

2 cups warm water

1½ - 2 Tablespoons yeast

6 cups bread flour

¼ cup sugar

1 – 1 ½ teaspoons salt (depending on taste)

¼ cup butter


Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add remaining ingredients and mix with dough hook about 10 minutes until the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Dough should be soft and pliable. Let dough rest a few minutes then divide into 1-pound portions. Roll the portions into logs. Cut each log into 5 equal pieces.

Place your favorite filling on top of each dough slice, then pull dough up from the sides to cover filling. Pinch closed very carefully. Place zombies pinched side down on parchment paper or a greased cookie sheet pan (parchment works best). If desired, brush with egg wash. Let rise until almost doubled in size. Bake @350 degrees until brown on top, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Fillings: The school district used American cheese, but any cheese will do. If traditional filling is desired use 1 ½ to 2 oz. of cheese per zombie, however, you can use a variety of different fillings. For example: pepperoni, pizza sauce & cheese, ham & cheese, sausage, green chilies, ground beef, sloppy joes, scrambled eggs, vegetables, etc.

Here's a sheet-pan version that was popular in northern West Coast school districts:

Here's a photo:


Cheese Zombies

1 ounce (about 2 tbsp) Baker’s Yeast
3 cups Water
2 pounds 8 ounces (about 5 cups) Flour
2 ounces (about 1/4 cup) Sugar
1 tablespoon Salt
2 ounces (1/4 cup) Shortening (Crisco)
3 pounds (6 cups) Cheddar Cheese block** - DONT BE SHY - this is the key ingredient here!
**You can use shredded cheddar instead.


1. Combine 1 ounce of baker's yeast with 3 cups of warm water.

2. Place 2 pounds, 8 ounces of white flour, 2 ounces of sugar, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 ounces of vegetable shortening in a mixing bowl.

3. Add yeast and water to the mixing bowl. Beat for about 10 minutes or until the dough is of one consistency.

4. Weigh dough into 2 pound, 2 ounce hunks and let rise until the hunk about doubles in size.

5. Roll one hunk evenly into a jelly roll pan.

6. Top with 8 slices of Cheddar cheese cut long way from the brick.** (Place cheese no less than 1/4-inch from edge.)

7. Roll out another hunk of dough to almost the size of the jelly roll pan. Place this over the cheese and press down the edges. Let rise.

8. Bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Let sit and cool. Brush top of sheet with melted butter or margarine. Cut sheet 6 by 4 inches.

Serve with tomato soup for dipping.

And for those who want to make a healthier version, here's a bread machine version of the bun type of Zombie that cuts down on the fat:

New And Improved Cheese Zombies

1 cup 1 percent milk (other milk can be substituted), slightly warm to the touch

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 large eggs, higher omega-3 if available, lightly beaten

2 cups whole wheat flour

1-1/2 cups unbleached white flour

4 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 teaspoons active dry or bread machine yeast

1 egg white, beaten

10 ounces reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese cut into 12 chunks

Set the bread machine to Dough cycle. Add the first 8 ingredients into the bread machine container in the order listed (add the salt to one of the corners of the containers and add the yeast into the center of the flour in the container.

Press start and your dough will be ready in about 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Divide the dough (it will be sticky) in half and then divide each half into 6 pieces. With well-floured hands, shape each piece of dough into a pancake shape. Brush the top of the pancake with some of the egg white and then place a piece of the cheese in the center. Wrap the dough around the cheese to form a ball and seal it well; the egg white helps keep the cheese from oozing out through the bread while it's baking. Repeat with the remaining dough and cheese.

Place the Cheese Zombie rolls on a large nonstick baking sheet and let them rise in a warm part of your kitchen for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees about 15 minutes before they are done rising.

Bake 10 minutes, cover with foil and bake another 8 minutes. Enjoy warm from the oven or keep them covered in the refrigerator to be enjoyed later.
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Reply Sat 7 May, 2011 04:15 pm
Never heard of either sandwich or drink. I don't think it was a New England food contraption.
Reply Sat 7 May, 2011 04:31 pm
Never heard of them. We did have regular old sloppy joes.
Hmm, they look tasty.
Reply Sat 7 May, 2011 05:53 pm
looksw kinda like a popover with cheese in the middle. Never had one. MAybe Ill have to try one.
IS this where HOTPOCKETS got their idea?
Reply Sat 7 May, 2011 06:06 pm
I was wondering about that too. They look like a rip off of the Chinese Pork bun - the ones that are baked rather than steamed.

They'd be a good thing to make with lots of various fillings and then throw into the freezer for future meals. I wonder if something like a Joe's Special recipe would make a good filling. It isn't anything but spinach, ground beef, chopped onions, cheese and eggs. I'm definitely going to try some barbecue chicken filling.
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Reply Fri 4 Sep, 2015 05:59 pm
Went to Clayton valley.high school which is in the mdusd, and we had zombies , which are freakin delicious! They even opened a shop called "zombies" where they exclusively sell them in Concord, ca. I definitely recommend trying this recipe, I am doing it for sure!
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