Johnny Marzetti

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This easy Johnny Marzetti casserole is a traditional Ohio recipe that is a great make-ahead casserole for potlucks because it serves a crowd! This ground beef and sausage casserole is full of noodles, cheese and Italian flavor.

I’ve lived in the midwest all my life. I complain about the state often, mostly because of the strange weather we have. In all honestly though, I love that we can experience snow one week and 70 degrees the next. Yes, it wreaks havoc on my allergies and sinuses, but Ohio can be very pretty.

johnny marzetti casserole in a baking dish

About Johnny Marzetti Casserole:

So what is Johnny Marzetti? Although I’m sure the recipe has changed from its original version over time, It’s really just a casserole with ground beef, sausage, noodles, tomatoes, cheese and a few chopped veggies. It’s similar to American goulash. But it has an Italian flair which my kids love.

This recipe serves about 10-15. It’s a great make-ahead casserole or potluck dish. I doubled this recipe to serve our church group of about 25 people and still had some for leftovers the next night, so it definitely serves a crowd!

Traditional Ohio Recipes

I thought it would be fun to share another recipe that originated in Ohio (like our Ohio shredded chicken sandwiches) . This Johnny Marzetti casserole comes from Marzetti’s restaurant in Columbus, Ohio (home of THE Ohio State University). The restaurant, founded in 1896 and run by Italian immigrant Teresa Marzetti, regularly served their customers a ground beef and noodle casserole with cheese and tomato sauce.

Casseroles often get a bad name, but everyone loved this baked dish and the restaurant itself. Marzetti’s also became famous for their salad dressings, which you can still buy in grocery stores today!

How to Make Johnny Marzetti

There are several steps to making this casserole, but I promise they are easy!

  • Cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente. Our elbow mac took about 7 minutes to al dente perfection. Penne pasta works well, too.
  • While the pasta is cooking, start browning the beef and ground pork sausage in a large skillet. Once it is browned and crumbly, drain off any fat, then add all of the veggies, spices and flavor. Cook the mixture for an additional 5 minutes to blend the flavors.
  • Add the tomato sauce and tomatoes.
  • Then you start layering! This will completely fill a 9×13 pan. I use a pan that is just ever so slightly bigger than 9×13 to be sure there is plenty of room.
  • Here’s the layers: cooked noodles, Italian cheese and meat sauce.
  • You’ll cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake the casserole for 45 minutes. Then remove the foil and sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the top. Bake again until the cheese is melted, about 5-10 minutes.
  • If you’d like the cheese to be slightly crisp and brown, broil the casserole on low for 3 minutes. Be sure to watch it closely though!
A bowl of beefy macaroni casserole

Can you make this with egg noodles?

If you’d like you can swap out the pasta noodles for egg noodles and cook just the same as shown below. Feel free to use other shapes of pasta, too.

Storage

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. This casserole also freezes well for up to 6 weeks.

easy ground beef casserole
easy ground beef casserole

Johnny Marzetti Recipe

4.71 from 27 votes
This easy Johnny Marzetti casserole is a traditional Ohio recipe that is a great make-ahead casserole for potlucks because it serves a crowd! This ground beef and sausage casserole is full of noodles, cheese and Italian flavor.
Servings 15
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes

Ingredients
 

  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound mild Italian sausage
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 14.4 ounces diced tomatoes (with juice)
  • 23 ounces tomato sauce (1 15 ounce can and 1 8 ounce can)
  • 2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend or mozzarella cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cook the macaroni in a large pot according to package directions until it is al dente (about 6-8 minutes). 
  • Drain the pasta and run cold water over it. Set aside.
  • Brown the ground beef and sausage in a skillet over medium heat until it is completely browned and crumbly. Drain off any fat. 
  • Add the onion, bell peppers, garlic, oregano, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, pepper flakes and garlic salt. Cook and stir for an additional 5 minutes to soften the vegetables.
  • Add the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Stir well.
  • Spray a large casserole dish (9×13 size or slightly larger) with cooking spray.
  • Spread the pasta over the bottom of the prepared pan.
  • Sprinkle the Italian cheese blend over the pasta.
  • Spread the meat sauce over the pasta and cheese. 
  • Cover the pan with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
  • Remove the foil, sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the casserole and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, uncovered, until the cheese is melted.
  • Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Notes

The calories shown are based on the recipe making 15 servings, with 1 serving about ¾ cup to 1 cup of casserole. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate.

Nutrition

Calories: 302kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 47mg | Sodium: 561mg | Potassium: 393mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 350IU | Vitamin C: 8.8mg | Calcium: 141mg | Iron: 1.9mg
Author Julie Clark
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Calories 302

Other Casserole Recipes

About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

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Danielle
4 years ago

5 stars
I mean serisouly, who doesn’t love a casserole? I love stuff like this. Easy to make, and perfect for potlucks. Or just for me to eat with a fork right out of the pan. YUM!

Karen Day-Lyon
4 years ago

Love me some Johnny Marzetti. My grandfather was a good friend of theirs when they were all still alive. Went into the restaurant at least once a week, and still make this once a month.

2pots2cook
4 years ago

5 stars
Love this version ! Thank you !

Karen jones
4 years ago

5 stars
Really enjoyed reading this article! I was born and raised in Columbus Ohio and my mom often made Johnny marzetti. She got the recipe from the Marzetti restaurant in downtown Columbus after WW2 in the 40s. And the wonderful salad dressing with the same name. You brought back memories!

Molly H
3 years ago

5 stars
This was such a wonderful blast from the past! Excellent version. We made it with ground venison and it was perfect. 💗

Mary
3 years ago

Have you ever tried to freeze half the recipe? Do you think it would be ok to freeze? Thinking it’d be easier to freeze half to use another time than to halve the ingredients.

Dianne
2 years ago

Can I make this ahead of time?

Tami Toppen
5 months ago

5 stars
This recipe is delicious. I did not have the canned diced tomatoes or green peppers on hand so I substituted two cans ( 10 oz. Each) of mild Rotel diced tomatoes and green chili’s.

Peggy
15 days ago

5 stars
Made this many a way and it’s always delightful!!!