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Johnny Marzetti Casserole – Slow Cooker or Oven! Recipe & Video

If you have heard of Johnny Marzetti Casserole, you are definitely from the Midwestern USA.

If you haven’t heard of it, don’t feel bad as I didn’t have a clue what it was (or that it even existed) until I randomly stumbled up it a couple of weeks ago. My attention was immediately drawn to the title : Johnny Marzetti? Made a casserole? Who’s he?

The Johnny Marzetti casserole originated at the Italian restaurant Marzetti’s in Columbus, Ohio. The restaurant was established in 1896, but the real local fame came when Teresa Marzetti served up this baked casserole that she named after her brother-in-law Johnny. It was cheap, cheerful and Marzetti’s happened to be right by Ohio State University – full of students looking for cheap, good eats. It soon became famous all over Ohio and the Midwest.

Johnny Marzetti Casserole, the classic Midwest dish that is the perfect comfort food! Recipe from @kitchenmagpie. #recipe #casserole #beef #noodles #cheese #baked #dinner #supper #family #meals

This dish is still popular with home cooks today and for good reason. It’s easy, it’s delicious and yes, it’s cheap and cheerful. I love a good ground beef casserole and the Johnny Marzetti casserole has become one of my new favourites.

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On a side note, Marzetti’s restaurant is now closed ( has been since 1972) but the name lived on with a line of salad dressings in the States! Who knew?

Johnny Marzetti Casserole #recipe #casserole #beef #noodles #cheese #baked #dinner #supper #family #meals

You have two options to make this casserole, in the oven or in the slow cooker. The slow cooker of course is messier, you will end up with a plate like the one shown above instead of the nicer squares shown below. You also have to make sure that you don’t overcook the noodles in the slow cooker as well, as a lot of slow cookers ‘low” setting is a pretty hot temperature.

Johnny Marzetti

I feel like the slow cooker version is good for setting right before you head to church on Sundays. If you make sure to cook your noodles to a firm al dente, you won’t have a problem leaving it for two hours to slowly come together and warm up. It does have to do with knowing your slow cooker; mine runs hot so I would cook mine for 1 1/2 hours and then leave it to stay on “keep warm” until we got home. That is perfect.

Johnny Marzetti Casserole, the classic Midwest dish that is the perfect comfort food! Recipe from @kitchenmagpie. #recipe #casserole #beef #noodles #cheese #baked #dinner #supper #family #meals

You can also prepare it and leave it in the fridge, until an hour before you want to eat or even overnight. I’ve read that leaving it overnight really gets the flavours melding together even better.

So, who here has heard of the Johnny Marzetti casserole before – and if so, where are you from?

Happy cooking!

Love,

Karlynn

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Johnny Marzetti Casserole, the classic Midwest dish that is the perfect comfort food! Recipe from @kitchenmagpie. #recipe #casserole #beef #noodles #cheese #baked #dinner #supper #family #meals

4.56 from 27 votes
Johnny Marzetti Casserole - Slow Cooker or Oven!
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 20 mins
 
Johnny Marzetti Casserole, the classic Midwest dish that is the perfect comfort food!
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8
Calories: 482 kcal
Author: Karlynn Johnston
Ingredients
  • 2 cups dry rotini pasta
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound bulk mild Italian sausage
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 lb white mushrooms washed and chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 15-16 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-16  ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded old Cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. If making in the oven, preheat your oven to 350 °F.
  2. Cook the pasta according to the package directions to a firm al dente. Remember, you are cooking it even further in the oven or crockpot, you don't want mush.
  3. Fry the ground beef and Italian sausage in a large skillet until browned. Mix in the onion and mushrooms and cook until soft. Add in the garlic, saute for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Stir in the Italian seasoning, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Simmer briefly, then set aside and cool for 10 minutes.
  5. Grease or spray the casserole dish or the inside of the slow cooker. Spread a little bit of the sauce on the bottom of the dish/slow cooker, then top with the pasta.
  6. Sprinkle the Italian blend cheese over the pasta, then pour the remaining sauce over the casserole.
  7. Cover and cook in the oven for 45 minutes or in the slow cooker on low for 1 1/2 - 2 hours. When ready, uncover, sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top and then cover again until melted.
  8. Serve and enjoy!
Recipe Notes

If you have a slow cooker where "low' is super hot, cut the time to 1 1/2 hours. The slow cooker method is great for when you don't want to use the oven but it's not an all day recipe.

Nutrition Facts
Johnny Marzetti Casserole - Slow Cooker or Oven!
Amount Per Serving
Calories 482 Calories from Fat 297
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 33g 51%
Saturated Fat 15g 75%
Cholesterol 106mg 35%
Sodium 556mg 23%
Potassium 420mg 12%
Total Carbohydrates 15g 5%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 2g
Protein 28g 56%
Vitamin A 8.2%
Vitamin C 3.1%
Calcium 32.8%
Iron 12.8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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33 Comments

  • Reply
    Beth S
    February 3, 2018 at 9:49 pm

    I grew up in South Carolina and we had this often in our elementary school cafeteria. My sister and I were just talking the other day about how good it used to be! But they used macaroni and we loved it!

    • Reply
      Rosie
      February 8, 2018 at 8:50 pm

      Looking fwd to trying this version. From Mississauga, Ontario .Canada

  • Reply
    Whitney
    January 31, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    We are from GA and my grandmother always used to make this when I was growing up. I remember her bringing it over when our first daughter was born. Thank you sharing. It brought back a very warm, wonderful memory of my Mimi.

  • Reply
    Kim
    January 29, 2018 at 3:37 pm

    Being from columbus ohio, my mom made this alot, although i dont recall her putting sausage in it. I haven’t had Marzetti in years, think its time to make some. Thank u for sharing and bringing memories back

  • Reply
    Nancy
    January 29, 2018 at 10:41 am

    What size casserole did you use? Looks yummy!

  • Reply
    Sonia B
    January 29, 2018 at 4:48 am

    I’m from Columbus, Ohio so this is well known to me. My mom only used ground beef and we probably had this every month. I make it today and absolutely love it.

  • Reply
    Colleen Chimenti
    January 28, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    I grew up eating Johnny Marzetti and still love it today. I am from Columbus Ohio and this was very popular. However, we used egg noodles, only beef (no sausage). Excited to try this take on one of my favorites!

  • Reply
    Linda H
    January 28, 2018 at 2:52 am

    My mother n law use to make this 40 years ago. She lived in Hammond, Indiana. I had never heard of it but my kids loved it growing up!

  • Reply
    April P.
    January 27, 2018 at 7:58 am

    I’m not from the Midwest, but Johnny Marzetti day in the cafeteria was the BEST! I live and grew up right outside of Pittsburgh. I can’t wait to see if this recipe will bring back elementary school memories! 😀

  • Reply
    Susan S.
    January 26, 2018 at 4:34 pm

    My mom always packed our lunches except on Johnny Marzetti day! The cafeteria ladies always received compliments from all of the grade school kids. When my son comes home on leave from the Army, this is one of his requested recipes. Try it with a dollop of sour cream on top!

  • Reply
    Jodi
    January 22, 2018 at 5:27 pm

    This looks great! I have not had a casserole version of this but growing up in Ohio we had this regularly for dinner. My Mom made it with egg noodles and American cheese. Always a hit!

  • Reply
    Debra Palmer
    January 22, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    This looks wonderful. What’s “old” cheddar cheese?

    • Reply
      Karlynn
      January 27, 2018 at 8:37 am

      Sharp cheese!

  • Reply
    Robin shires
    January 22, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    Our youngest boy. Now 38. Calls it yummy zetti lol he expects me to make it whenever he comes home for a visit. I grew up on it. Mommy made it all the time with a side salad and fresh bread. I’m from Circleville Ohio home of the great pumpkin show.

  • Reply
    Joyce Wagner
    January 22, 2018 at 5:50 am

    I’m from Indiana. We used to be served Johnny Marzetti in our grade school cafeteria for lunch. I was so excited to see this recipe! Oh, the memories.

  • Reply
    Laura Slovonia
    January 22, 2018 at 4:36 am

    We lived in Lancaster OH just south of Columbus in the 70’s. My mom used to make this or a version of it fairly often. With 4 kids and only 1 income, it was great budget stretcher. Delicious!

  • Reply
    Lisa B.
    January 21, 2018 at 5:12 pm

    I had forgotten will about this Midwestern family fave. I grew up in Michigan and not only did my mother make this, but it was a weekly favorite in my dorm cafeteria at Michigan State University. I’m going to have to make it soon.

    • Reply
      Karlynn Johnston
      January 21, 2018 at 5:19 pm

      I SO knew it was served in cafeterias, thank you for confirming it!! Man, the Midwest knows how to COOK and feed people! <3 <3

  • Reply
    Pam
    January 20, 2018 at 5:24 pm

    I’m from Illinois and think I’ve been missing something! Am sure it’s going to be a keeper..thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Nellie Johnson
    January 19, 2018 at 7:08 am

    My ex mother in law use to make this in the 70’s. She was from Ohio. Delicious . Served with Italian bread and salad.Nellie

  • Reply
    Mozella
    December 31, 2017 at 6:31 am

    I saw the Johnny Marzette Casserole recipe from a Pinterest e-mail and intend on making it. I live in Pine Ridge, SD

  • Reply
    Heather Booth
    December 21, 2017 at 11:23 pm

    I live about an hour South of Columbus in Chillicothe, OH. We have eaten this dish for as long as I can remember. It’s so good and like the comforts of home.

  • Reply
    Teresa W.
    November 30, 2017 at 10:19 pm

    Hi Karlynn! I never knew the story behind this dish. When I was a kid in elementary school, we would get monthly menus. There was always “John Marzetti” on that menu. I never understood why it was called that, but I didn’t care because I loved it! I am from southwest lower Michigan btw. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  • Reply
    Teresa
    November 26, 2017 at 5:34 pm

    This was THE BEST! 🙂

  • Reply
    Christina
    November 22, 2017 at 8:22 am

    Looks delicious! But I’ve never heard of it, and I’ve been in Iowa my whole life.

  • Reply
    Andi
    November 20, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    Growing up in the Midwest, South Eastern Indiana!!! This was a classic staple as a school lunch! Back then the cooks actually made it homemade so It was always awesome. Benefit of being best friends with the school cooks, daughter you might ask!? I got her recipe for Johnny M.!!! Your recipe is almost identical! My kids love this and is always great on a cold winter night sticks to ur ribs and leftovers are always great too (if there is any left)! My son eats it cold right out of the fridge!

    • Reply
      Karlynn Johnston
      November 22, 2017 at 8:17 am

      I’m glad that I was really close to nailing the recipe! It was a hit with the entire family and we will definitely make it again! You were lucky to have such a great school lunch!!!

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