Johnny Marzetti Beef and Macaroni Casserole

Johnny Marzetti casserole

The Spruce

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 40 mins
Total: 60 mins
Servings: 10 to 12 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
402 Calories
23g Fat
20g Carbs
29g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10 to 12
Amount per serving
Calories 402
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 23g 29%
Saturated Fat 11g 53%
Cholesterol 90mg 30%
Sodium 546mg 24%
Total Carbohydrate 20g 7%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Protein 29g
Calcium 322mg 25%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

One of the great casserole recipes 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 may not be fancy, but 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 (which is rare!), they are even more delicious the next day.


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

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Johnny Marzetti casserole
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  2. 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.

    Pasta in a colander
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  3. Return the macaroni to the pot and toss with 1 teaspoon of oil to prevent the noodles from sticking together.

    Return macaroni to the pot
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  4. 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.

    Mince garlic
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  5. In a large skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion for 5 minutes, until softened.

    Heat oil
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  6. Add the celery and sliced mushrooms. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes or until the mushrooms are releasing their juices.

    Add mushrooms
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  7. Stir in the ground beef, breaking it up, and cook until browned with no pink remaining.

    Stir in ground beef
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  8. Add the red wine and deglaze the skillet, allowing the wine to cook down and evaporate, about 5 minutes.

    Add red wine
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  9. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a large baking dish with butter.

    Butter pan
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  10. Squeezing through your fingers, add the tomatoes and their juices to the beef mixture.

    Add tomatoes
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  11. Stir in the garlic paste, several grinds of black pepper, oregano, and basil.

    Stir in the garlic paste
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  12. Transfer the meat and tomatoes to the pot with the cooked macaroni, and combine with all but 1 cup of the grated cheddar cheese.

    Cheese in bowl
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  13. Transfer everything to the buttered baking dish and sprinkle the remaining 1 cup cheddar cheese on top.

    Transfer everything to a buttered baking dish
  14. Bake uncovered 35 to 40 minutes until the casserole is bubbling and the cheese is nicely browned on top.

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  15. Wait 10 minutes for the casserole to settle, then serve.

    Bake in dish
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  16. Enjoy!