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Johnny Marzetti Casserole

Johnny Marzetti Casserole is a hearty ground beef Italian casserole with lots of cheese and a thick, rich tomato sauce.

Spoon scooping up Johnny Marzetti Casserole in a 9x13-inch dish.


What is Johhny Marzetti Casserole?

It originated at the Italian restaurant Marzetti’s in Columbus, Ohio and it is pure pasta comfort food. This version has a meaty pasta sauce, plus pepperoni. It also has bell pepper, onion, and 3 types of cheese: mozzarella, cheddar, and Parmesan.

It makes enough to feed a crowd and leftovers reheat well. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days and reheat in the microwave.

The sauce is easy to make with a jar of pasta sauce (use your favorite) and a can of tomato paste. A full can of tomato paste gives it a rich tomato flavor that really stands up to all the cheese. For the pasta sauce, I like to use Classico Roasted Garlic, but any one will work. A little brown sugar in the sauce gives it just a hint of sweetness.

Casserole topped with pepperoni in baking dish.


Johnny Marzetti Casserole Recipe Tips:

For the pasta, my favorite is large elbow pasta but you can use penne, ziti, rotini, or egg noodles. You can use a combination of ground beef and Italian sausage if you want a little extra flavor.

Just cook the pasta to al dente since it will cook more in the oven.

The size of this casserole is huge and you can get a good 12 servings from it. It barely fits in a 9×13-inch pan so you can use a slightly larger one if you have one.

To round this meal out, serve with a garden salad with Creamy Italian dressing and Pepperoncini Garlic Bread.

Make Ahead Suggestions and Storage

The sauce can be made a day in advance and refrigerated. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 days and reheated in the microwave.

Johnny Marzetti Casserole being scooped up with spoon.

Try These Other Pasta Casseroles:

Casserole in baking dish with a spoon scooping a serving.

Johnny Marzetti Casserole

Johnny Marzetti Casserole is a hearty ground beef Italian casserole with lots of cheese and a thick, rich tomato sauce.
PREP: 25 minutes
COOK: 30 minutes


  • 1 pound large elbow pasta
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 medium yellow or sweet onion, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 (24-ounce) jar pasta sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 40-50 pepperoni slices


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Drain well.
  • While water for pasta is coming to a boil, start cooking sauce.
    Brown and crumble ground beef in a large nonstick skillet.
    Drain off any grease.
  • Add onion and bell pepper and cook until soft.
  • Add minced garlic and cook 1 minute.
  • Add salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, brown sugar, tomato paste, pasta sauce, and water.
    Simmer until thickened some. Remove from heat.
  • Place cooked pasta in the bottom of a greased 9x13-inch baking dish.
  • Sprinkle half the mozzarella and half the cheddar cheese on top of the noodles,
  • Spread sauce on top. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese and cheddar cheese.
  • Sprinkle with half the Parmesan.
  • Scatter the pepperoni on top. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese on top.
  • Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet in case there is any over flow.
    Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly and hot.


Calories: 392kcal
Course: Dinner, Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: ground beef, pasta

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11 thoughts on “Johnny Marzetti Casserole”

  1. Jeanine Wiley

    I have made this several times and recently my d-in-law asked for the recipe. Our family loves it!!

  2. Jeanine Wiley

    I made this recipe today for the 2nd time. Yum!!! I made it exactly as your recipe recommended. Feeds a family and then some. Thanks so much for sharing this. Definitely a keeper!!❤️

  3. Tasted great but the sauce didn’t penetrate all the way down to the bottom. There was a layer of plain macaroni on the bottom that looked like goulash when scooped out. I may have done something wrong.

  4. Josie Brown

    Had to make this today after seeing the recipe on Facebook. It was wonderful. Will be adding this to my regular rotation!

  5. Oooh, Mama Mia!!!!! Absolutely delicious!! I did not change this recipe at all; however, since I live alone, I made several small casseroles and I cooked and ate one, froze the others (before baking). Doing it my way probably needed more cheese but it was well worth it. I highly recommend this recipe!!!

  6. Ezequiel Gonzalez

    Feeds a million people and has a homemade taste! I’d recommend Italian sausage and beef though for sure!

  7. Janet Bradley

    Soooo much wanna make this recipe love everything but that pasta. Do you think I could use orzo instead?
    If so, approximately how much. There is only 2 of us, so I always have leftovers.

    Thanks, Janet

  8. Found it! I’ve been looking for a recipe that will entice my adult kids to come home for a dinner. Thank you, thank you!!

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