Johnny Marzetti Casserole Recipe

johnny marzetti
Gleeful Gourmand
  • 60 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins,
  • Cook: 40 mins
  • Yield: 1 casserole (10–12 servings)
Ratings (13)

One of the great casseroles of all time is the ground beef, tomato, and elbow macaroni dish that goes by the name Johnny Marzetti. It was made famous by the Marzetti Restaurant in Columbus, Ohio during the 1920s and named after owner Theresa Marzetti's brother-in-law. 

Many Midwestern families have enjoyed this legendary casserole for generations. It is the ideal comfort food for fall and winter, the recipe is easy to follow, and it serves a crowd. If there are any leftovers, they are even more delicious the next day.

What You'll Need

  • 1 pound macaroni (elbow)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (Kosher)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 3 stalks celery (chopped)
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms (white, sliced)
  • 1 1/2 pounds beef (ground)
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1 (28 oz.) can tomatoes (whole, plum)
  • Black pepper to taste (freshly ground)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano (dried)
  • 1 teaspoon basil (dried)
  • 1 pound cheddar cheese (sharp, grated)
  • 1 tablespoon butter (softened, for greasing the baking dish)

How to Make It

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the elbow macaroni. Cook until al dente (between 10 and 12 minutes). Drain well.
  2. Return the macaroni to the pot and toss with a teaspoon of oil to prevent the noodles from sticking together.
  3. Gather the minced garlic into a small pile on a cutting board and sprinkle it with Kosher salt. Using a chef's knife, press down on the salt and grind it with the garlic to form a coarse paste. Set aside.
  1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high. Sauté the onion for 5 minutes, until softened.
  2. Add the celery and sliced mushrooms. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes or until the mushrooms are exuding their juices.
  3. Stir in the ground beef, breaking it up, and cook until browned with no pink remaining.
  4. Stir in the red wine and deglaze the skillet, allowing the wine to cook down and evaporate (about 5 minutes).
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  6. Squeeze the tomatoes through your (clean) fingers and combine (along with the canning juices) with the beef. Stir in the garlic paste, several grinds of black pepper, oregano, and basil.
  7. Transfer the meat and tomatoes to the pot with the cooked macaroni, and combine with all but 1 cup of the grated cheddar cheese.
  8. Transfer everything to a large buttered baking dish and sprinkle the remaining cheddar cheese on top.
  9. Bake uncovered 35 to 40 minutes until the casserole is bubbling and the cheese is nicely browned on top.
  10. Wait 10 minutes for the casserole to settle, then serve.