Johnny Marzetti Casserole – (Ground Beef Casserole Recipe)

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If you have heard of Johnny Marzetti Casserole, a delicious ground beef recipe, 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 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.

close up serving of Johnny Marzetti Casserole (Ground Beef Recipe) in a white plate
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 Casserole in a white plate with floral prints
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.

close up serving of Johnny Marzetti Casserole in a white plate
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.

close up serving of Johnny Marzetti Casserole in a white plate
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!

Love,

Karlynn

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Johnny Marzetti Casserole - Slow Cooker or Oven!

Johnny Marzetti Casserole - the classic Midwest dish that is the perfect comfort food! This is a fabulous ground beef recipe.

4.9 from 86 votes
close up serving of Johnny Marzetti Casserole in a white plate
Prep Time
20 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Total Time
1 hour 20 minutes
Course
Main Course
Cuisine
American
Servings
8
Calories
482
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 pound white mushrooms washed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon 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 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 Information

Calories: 482kcal, Carbohydrates: 15g, Protein: 28g, Fat: 33g, Saturated Fat: 15g, Cholesterol: 106mg, Sodium: 556mg, Potassium: 420mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 410IU, Vitamin C: 2.6mg, Calcium: 328mg, Iron: 2.3mg

All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

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Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

Learn more about me

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Reader Interactions

Comments & Recipe Tips Share a tip or comment!

  1. James M Dwyer says

    Also have the recipe with additional options you can add for more flavor

  2. James M Dwyer says

    I have heard of Jonny Merzetti. My mother made it quite bit. We lived in Indiana.

  3. Linda says

    I don’t like mushrooms so I leave that out. I’m from Michigan and mom made this while I was growing up. She also made goulash, not Hungarian goulash the American midwest variety. I like it even better than this casserole.
    I use elbow macaroni, ground beef, fire roasted diced tomatoes, green pepper, onion, a can of tomato soup, a little katchup, a little bottled chili sauce, Worchester sauce, a few hot pepper flakes, salt and pepper. It’s delicious!5 stars

  4. Susan Webber says

    I’m born and raised in Ohio and this was and still is a staple on our dinner table. When i lived in Columbus, I worked close to Marzetti’s and had lunch there often. I make it in the microwave now, cooking the meat (ground beef only) in a colander inside a 2 qt casserole. Drain the grease and leave the meat in the bottom of the dish, top with 4 C. uncooked noodles, 1 can stewed tomatoes, 1 8 oz can tomato sauce, 2 T. dried minced onions and pour 1 C water over all. Cover and microwave on high for 14-16 mins, stirring once halfway thru. Top with shredded cheese, cover and let cheese melt for 5 mins. Stir and serve. Quick and easy!

  5. Nancy says

    I’m from southern Indiana and Mom called this casserole John Mazetti. She made it with wide noodles, ground beef, dried minced onions, canned mushrooms (I now used sliced olives), tomato soup and shredded Veletta. Mixed all together and put in casserole dish.
    Still a family favorite, which I now call Zetti.

  6. Pam says

    I was born in Columbus, Ohio but raised in Cleveland. As a child, for a treat, our family went to Marzetti’s restaurant. My Mom copied Johnny Marzetti recipe as best she could. She made it in a Deep casserole dish and mixed together elbow macaroni, ground beef, onion, can of diced tomatoes, salt and pepper then put chunks of velvet a cheese on top before she popped it in the oven. I still make it to this day for my grandchildren! Yumm!5 stars

  7. Tee Kurelic says

    I wanted to add to my earlier comment after I read the recipe. A lot of what was in that my Mom never used because we couldn’t afford it and believe me it was just as good.
    Basically she just used canned diced tomatoes, onion, ground beef, salt, pepper and noodles with sometimes adding the cheese on top and a small can of tomato sauce. My Mother in law always made it this way, too.
    If I put in slow cooker, I put noodles almost in raw.

  8. Tee Kurelic says

    Born and raised in Columbus and this was a staple back then because it was to die for delicious and cheap to make.
    I still make and is always a favorite.

  9. Shonna says

    This reminds me of when I was a little girl in Columbus Ohio and my mom would make this quite often! Loved it
    then and still do. Brings back good memories of my childhood in Columbus. No longer there but I can still make this!

  10. Connie says

    When I was in junior/high school in the 60’s this was in the cafeteria menu rotation at least once per 2 weeks One of my favorites back then in South Central PA. Thanks for recipe

  11. Connie says

    When I was in junior/high school in the 60’s this was in the cafeteria menu rotation at least once per 2 weeks One of my favorites back then in South Central PA. Thanks for recipe

  12. P K Glenn says

    I grew up in Ohio and lived in Columbus for many years while raising a family. Johnny Marzetti was our go-to meal whenever we had leftover chili. It was simple to make and my family loved it. Here’s how I did it: Prepare 2 cups of macaroni according to package directions (al dente), drain and place in a greased casserole dish, stir in leftover chili, cover top with grated cheese and pop in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes (or until heated through). Voila – add a side salad and dinner is served! This casserole was always a welcome contribution to potluck dinners.

  13. jillianlaw says

    Curious if anyone has tried in the IP to make this?

  14. Skip Pierce says

    Grew up on the south side of Chicago but lived in Columbus Ohio for 8 years so I’m not sure in which place I heard of it.

  15. Dawn says

    I made the slow cooker version for dinner last night. I also subbed in plant protein for the meat and sausage as we’re vegetarian. It was a huge hit with the whole family, especially me because it was so easy to put together.5 stars

  16. Arthur C says

    In Blacksburg Virginia now but I am from Columbus and remember this as a regular meal growing up. I was trying to explain this dish to my wife, she grew up in Va, and am glad to find your recipe on line.
    Thanks for posting it

  17. Norman Worthington says

    I’m in Columbus and just made your recipe. The real test will be my 7yo son tonight.

  18. Holly says

    I’m actually from Columbus. So many people make this, but everyone makes it different. Not really a fan myself. I may try this one though!4 stars

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