If you have heard of Johnny Marzetti Casserole, a delicious ground beef recipe, you are definitely from the Midwestern USA.

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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 while looking for a good ground beef recipe. My attention was immediately drawn to the title : Johnny Marzetti? Made a casserole? Who’s he? I knew that I loved my Sour Cream Ground Beef Noodle Casserole, and this recipe also using ground beef in a casserole seemed similar, so I HAD to explore this recipe!

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 (Ground Beef Recipe)
Johnny Marzetti Casserole (Ground Beef Recipe)

A Simple & Easy Ground Beef Casserole

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

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?

 Ground Beef Recipe - Johnny Marzetti
Ground Beef Recipe – Johnny Marzetti

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 Casserole
Johnny Marzetti Casserole

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.

Side Dishes to Serve with this Casserole

I suggest a nice lighter Homemade coleslaw recipe or my Tex-Mex Corn Salad for some extra zip. You also can’t go wrong with a Dill Cucumber and Tomato Salad or Mexican Coleslaw. What you need is to keep any side dishes light AND full of vegetables, so a salad is the perfect thing. Even a simple green salad will do the trick. This is a heavy pasta casserole so you want to make sure to balance out the meal.

Johnny Marzetti Casserole
Johnny Marzetti Casserole

More Great Ground Beef Recipes:

You can also prepare this casserole 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!



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

4.89 from 44 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! This is a fabulous ground beef recipe.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: johnny marzetti
Servings: 8
Calories: 482 kcal
Author: Karlynn Johnston
  • 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
  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 Video

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. As with almost all ground beef recipes that use the slow cooker, you have to cook the ground beef first.

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.

Hey guys, I'm Karlynn! Welcome to The Kitchen Magpie, my website full of family friendly recipes, cocktails & homesteading tales of chickens & cows from the family farm! Make sure to check out my bestselling cookbook, Flapper Pie & a Blue Prairie Sky ,stay tuned for info on my second cookbook!


  1. I am from central PA. Our schools served this in the caeterias at least twice a month. This was in the late 50’s and 60’s. (Now I just gave up my age!! 72 and proud of it) Loved this then and have wanted a recipe to make it. Can’t wait to try it.

    • Grew up in Cleveland. Our cafeteria at Rocky River High School served this all the time. Like someone said below, they used spaghetti and I think it was leftover spaghetti. Still it’s a great dish!

  2. My mother-in-law made this when her kids were growing up, but she used leftover pork roast and so do I. It’s one of my husbands favorites and I plan on trying it with the ground beef instead of the pork. After 50 years of marriage and cooking (which I never liked) I still want super easy recipes that are tasty and the ground beef makes it sound even easier and still delicious.

    • OH, my! The best recipe I’ve found for my old grade school favorite! I did substitute Mid’s spaghetti sauce for the tomatoes and tomato sauce. That’s the only change I made. I loved learning the history behind this dish as I was always mystified that it seemed only Ohioans knew about it. Thank you!

      • Forgot to say I’m from Cuyahoga Falls, OH like Sara. Now live in IL, near Waukegan. When our school made it, they used spaghetti. I always figured they made it in order to use up leftover spaghetti! I loved it all the same! But your recipe is the tops!

  3. Enjoyed the history of this recipe. Thank you for sharing. Have made it several times, always a big hit! Each time I get an email from the Kitchen Magpie, I have to check it out. This casserole is one of my favorites. Another is the “double tree” chocolate chip cookie recipe. Really enjoy your website. A+

  4. This is fantastic! I grew up in Columbus and ate our version of this all the time. It’s still a favorite today. But we always just called it Casserole, as my mom got the recipe from a friend of hers. It wasn’t until I moved to Miami County, Ohio (north of Dayton) that I ever heard it called Johnny Marzetti! My mother-in-law at the time made her own version of it as well. Both of our recipes only used beef, and use egg noodles instead of rotini. She did not use mushrooms. My version uses cream of mushroom soup, stewed tomatoes (my mom uses stewed tomatoes with green peppers, but I prefer it without), the mushrooms, only beef, tomato sauce and Velveeta cheese instead of the other cheeses. Like I said in an above comment, this freezes really well and I use it all the time for funeral or new baby meals, etc. How wonderful to know the name came from Columbus and made it all the way over here. This was hamburger helper before Hamburger Helper was a thing! 🙂

    • Yes, it does! I use it all the time for funerals or new babies, etc.!

  5. My Mom used to make this all the time! I also make it but for family gatherings! It’s too much for just two people, but everyone loves it. And I’m from Perrysburg , Ohio

  6. Mona Clemmons Reply

    I needed a baking dish size for the Johnny Marzetti Casserole.

  7. Peggy Klusty Reply

    Being a Buckeye and all teams Ohio, I have lived here my entire life. When I read this recipe was one common to Ohio, it took me back to my school days when we were served this. Of course I had to make it and it was as good now as it was back then. Thank you so much for sharing this with us! Great recipe and great memories!

    • I too am a Buckeye and worked in Kresge cafeteria as my first job. This was on the menu once a week, and we couldn’t make enough of it.

  8. I grew up with this recipe. My mom got it from our neighbor in Waukegan, IL. Our recipe includes chopped up green olives. I don’t like olives so I put them in whole so I can pick them out. You HAVE to put them in though for the right flavor combo. LOL.

  9. Linda Cason Reply

    I learned this recipe from a old friend named Sally but I haven’t made it in years I may just have to pull it out and make it again I live in Easley SC but love this recipe my Children loved it growing up perhaps I need to make it and have them come eat supper with us

  10. Grew up in Columbus, Ohio, went to Ohio State and have enjoyed Johnny Marzetti for over 60 years. One of our families favorite meals. Live in California now, miss their excellent salad dressings, especially for coleslaw! Mom passed away, kids all scattered but we are all still loving our Johnny Marzetti!

  11. I lived in Columbus , Oh. in the late 60’s and 70’s. This is where I learned of this recipe. Never knew the story and glad the Marzetti cole slaw dressing I septillion around. Never made the come connection
    I am a widow now so hard to cook for one, but I loved it. Did not use all the ingredients that you have listed though. Thank you for posting

    • Paula Stalion Reply

      I have made Johnny Mazetti for almost 50 yrs. My version is 2 lbs ground chuck, onion,green pepper, egg noodles,10oz bag, cream of Mushroom soup,diced tomatoes,italian seasoning,quart of tomato juice, 1 -lb velveeta. If too thick. Pour some milk in. My sons favorite.

  12. Celeste Goodin Reply

    I grew up in Ohio and we had this with Bob Evans sausage and ground beef and noodles. When I went to college in Indiana they made it with macaroni and green olives. I loved it then and it is a go to comfort food for me, right up there with stuffed cabbage and meatloaf!

  13. This is so good!! Making it for the second time, my boys found out we were having Johnny Marzetti, they both jumped and said YES!!! It has become a favourite in our household. Thanks for such a great recipe!

  14. Annette Lawson Reply

    I’m from southern California, my mom made this dish all the time.

  15. I make this all of the time. I grew up calling it macaroni dish because that’s what my grandma referred to it as. I am from Ontario.

  16. We had this a least once a month at school in the 70’s. I hated it, but of course I didn’t like spaghetti back then. I haven’t heard of it since, thought it was something the school cooks threw together. I may try for the grandkids.

  17. Never heard of it but I’m gonna try it.
    From West Texas. Just moved from Midland to Abilene. It looks delicious! Thanks for the recipe. ?

    • This was served in school during the 60’s and 70’s in Ky, , but was made with macaroni and I think it had corn instead of mushrooms…..not eaten it in years….. may have to make it….

  18. Sherry Frigon Reply

    I worked at Kresge’s in the 60’s and this was there signature dish at the lunch counter. I believe they added whole kernel corn to it. Excellent, either way.

  19. I have been thinking about my childhood meals. My mom was a fabulous cook. I grew up Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio in the sixties . My favorite school lunch. And my mom made this at least once a week for us. Good memories. Thank you for the recipe! It’s time to make it again.

  20. Oh the memories!!! My mom made it, but called it Economy Casserole! She used ground beef, but no sausage. I made it when my daughter was small she called it Razzerole! Now I make Razzerole for my grandkids!! So yummy on a cold day with a salad and garlic bread!!

  21. Raytown MO (Suburb town of Kansas City Mo)..elementary school cafeteria, 1950s..was a little more “red saucy” with macaroni, I believe.. served in Jr. High also in Raytown.. this may have been school cafeteria fare in Arizona, 1960s..which had many “immigrants” from the Midwest (1880s to 1970s)..Great stuff!…popular, like pizza is with kids today.

  22. I am a chef from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and I know about Johnny Marzetti because I’m researching and writing a cookbook on Global Pasta.

  23. 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!

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

  24. 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.

  25. 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

  26. 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.

  27. Colleen Chimenti Reply

    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!

  28. 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!

  29. 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! ?

  30. 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!

  31. 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!

  32. Robin shires Reply

    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.

  33. Joyce Wagner Reply

    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.

  34. Laura Slovonia Reply

    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!

  35. 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.

    • 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

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

  37. Nellie Johnson Reply

    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

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

  39. Heather Booth Reply

    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.

  40. 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!

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

  42. 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!

    • 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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