Johnny Marzetti Casserole – (Ground Beef Casserole Recipe)

Johnny Marzetti Casserole - the classic Midwest dish that is the perfect comfort food! This is a fabulous ground beef 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. I didn’t have a clue what it was (or that it even existed) until I randomly stumbled upon it a couple of weeks ago while looking for a good ground beef recipe. My attention was immediately drawn to the title: Johnny Marzetti? Did he make a casserole? Who’s he?

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

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 it!

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 and cheerful, and Marzetti’s happened to be right by Ohio State University—full of students looking for inexpensive, good food. It soon became famous all over Ohio and the Midwest.

A Simple & Easy Ground Beef Casserole

This ground beef recipe is still popular with home cooks today, and for good reason. It’s easy, delicious, and, yes, 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 favorites.

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

You have two options for making 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 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 suitable 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 them for two hours to come together and warm up slowly.

It does have to do with knowing your slow cooker; mine runs hot, so I cook mine for 1 1/2 hours and then leave it to stay on “keep warm” until we get home. That is perfect.

Side Dishes to Serve with this Casserole

I suggest a nice light 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. You need 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 flavors melding together even better.

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

Happy cooking!



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.
4.93 from 216 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
Main Course
Slow Cooker / Crockpot
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 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


  • If making in the oven, preheat your oven to 350 °F.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Stir in the Italian seasoning, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Simmer briefly, then set aside and cool for 10 minutes.
  • Grease or spray a 9×13 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.
  • Sprinkle the Italian blend cheese over the pasta, then pour the remaining sauce over the casserole.
  • 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.
  • 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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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

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!

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Reader Interactions

Comments & Recipe Tips Share a tip or comment!

  1. Erica says

    I grew up in Cincinnati. My grandma used to make Johnny Marzetti for my father. He first tried it at the school cafeteria and described it to my grandmother. For her recipe, she coats the noodles with cream cheese and it is so yummy. My kids love it too!5 stars

  2. Sue says

    I grew up in Quebec, Canada. My Mom made something similar to this but didn’t use a specific recipe. She topped it with bread cubes with the cheese on top. That’s the part I liked best!!

  3. Gloria says

    Hello from Texas! We were served this at school during the seventies. The lunch ladies actually cooked meals then, unlike now. Thanks for the memories and the recipe.

  4. Ynes Flores says

    I was so excited when I saw this for recipe. A coworker shared this with me over 20 years ago. He would always say they were having Johnny Marietta for dinner and I always thought it was a person coming for dinner. I then told him, wow he comes over for dinner quite often, he laughed and told me that it was a casserole that was simple and inexpensive to make, especially for his family of 8. He shared it with me and I loved it. Thanks for sharing again!

  5. Chris Mills says

    I grew up on a dairy farm in northcentral Indiana. Johnny Marzetti casserole was a regular at our dinner table throughout my childhood until I want away to college. Now, when I visit Mom back in Indiana, she makes this casserole just for me…for old times. I love it. Glad to see it is still being passed on.

    • Tom Allmond says

      Nice easy recipe. My family loves it. My adult son called it “poor man’s lasagna” but better. This is a real keeper and so easy.

  6. Jackie wood says

    I always use finely chopped green pepper in my version

  7. Teresa says

    can you prepare this today and put in oven tomorrow?

  8. Barbara Karr says

    I am in Watertown WI. Before that I lived in Michigan my whole life. I have used Marzetti Salad Dressings from time to time but had never heard of the casserole. Thanks for the history lesson and the recipe. This is a quick and easy dinner recipe! Barb

  9. Maureen says

    I have not tried your recipe but i have mine from my mom (I was raised in Chesterton, IN) My mom’s must be the more adult version because we pour red wine over it for the lost 30-60 minute.:) Recipe is similar but not exact…we use shell pasta and only beef (but I have added sausage before). Its my go to to take for babies or funerals or anyone needing a dish made for them that everyone will like.

    • Anita Hancock says

      Going to try your recipe. Our mother used to make this a lot. We are from Zanesville Ohio

  10. Ted says

    I grew up in Illinois. I swear we had this in middle and high school. Only in lasagna form. Can’t wait to try it.

    • Karlynn Johnston says

      Hope you love it!! It’s a family favourite here!5 stars

  11. Cindy says

    Yes, we had this at school in the 60’s in Indiana.

  12. Carol says

    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.5 stars

    • Jan says

      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!

  13. Sue Baker says

    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.5 stars

    • Lynne says

      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!5 stars

      • Lynne says

        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!5 stars

  14. Bill says

    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+5 stars

  15. Michelle says

    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! 🙂

  16. Kathaleen Harris says

    Would this casserol freeze well to give as a gift?

    • Michelle says

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

  17. Jan says

    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

  18. Mona Clemmons says

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

    • Brady Johnson says

      I made it with a 9×13 pan. It fits perfectly.

  19. Peggy Klusty says

    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!5 stars

    • Anna says

      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.

    • Katie says

      From Columbus and never knew the story. My mom is a fantastic cook, but this recipe is so much better than the one she made when I was a kid.5 stars

  20. Diana R. says

    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.

  21. Linda Cason says

    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 us5 stars

  22. Denise Gussler says

    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!5 stars

  23. Barbara H says

    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

    • Barbara H says

      I meant , glad the cole slaw dressing is still around.

    • Paula Stalion says

      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.

  24. Celeste Goodin says

    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!5 stars

  25. Stacey says

    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!5 stars

    • Karlynn Johnston says

      You are so welcome! I am glad they love it!!!5 stars

  26. Annette Lawson says

    I’m from southern California, my mom made this dish all the time.5 stars

  27. Layla says

    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.5 stars

  28. Shirley says

    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.

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