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Retro Johnny Marzetti Casserole

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johnny marzetti


When we were kids growing up in the midwest, my mom made a popular dish called “Johnny Marzetti” that we adored!  It’s a simple dish that was created as good food at cheap prices mostly designed for the starved college kids attending Ohio State University.

It all started back in 1896 when Italian immigrant Teresa Marzetti started serving it at her family’s restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, on Broad Street. This popular dish came to be known as “Johnny Marzetti” after her brother-in-law.


teresa marzetti


The simple dish consisting of ground beef, cheese, tomato sauce and noodles became an instant hit at only .45¢ a plate!


marzetti's restaurant


By the 1920’s, it was popular all across the midwest and started being served in public schools. It’s still the number one favorite fondly remembered and still served in public school lunchrooms all across the nation! Teresa’s original recipe is even preserved at the Ohio Historical Society!

Though Teresa and her restaurant are long gone, she is still remembered for her Marzetti Salad Dressings! And of course, this heart-warming, tummy-filling dish that sticks to your ribs and warms you from head to toe on cold winter’s days.

There are many variations and additions made by home cooks like me, and happy to share my version of Teresa’s “Johnny Marzetti”.

I still start with ground beef, but I really enjoy adding bell peppers, celery and onions to start.


johnny marzetti 1



I also like to add a little butter to help the next addition cook better – – some fresh sliced mushrooms!



johnny marzetti 2



Next to go in are some nice, sweet, stewed tomatoes!



johnny marzetti 3



Then the traditional tomato soup and part of the cheddar cheese!



egg noodles



I like to boil my egg noodles separately, drain them, then add them to the casserole.



johnny marzetti 4



Just gently fold in the mostly cooked noodles, pour into a casserole dish, and top with the rest of the cheese! 😀



johnny marzetti 5



Pop into a moderate oven and bake until happy and bubbly!



johnny marzetti 6



Simply serve with a side veggie or salad, some bread and butter, and you’re all set!



johnny marzetti 7



This makes a nice-sized casserole that’s perfect for the whole family or that potluck coming up that you need to fix a dish for! 😉



johnny marzetti



So if you’re browsing for an easy but delicious casserole to make for supper tonight, you’ve stumbled onto the right place!

You, too, can adjust to your own family’s liking, adding and omitting the extra ingredients to the basic recipe, so that everyone at the table is happy! And believe me, there will lots ‘n lots of smiles! 😀 😉

Hope you enjoy! Take care and I’ll see you soon! ~Kelly



Retro Johnny Marzetti

Retro Johnny Marzetti


  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 4 Tbl. butter
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. oregano
  • a fourth to a half of a small onion, chopped (to taste)
  • 1 rib celery, sliced or chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, medium diced, (any color or mixed)
  • 1 (8 oz.) carton fresh sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can stewed tomatoes, I prefer Hunt's
  • 2 (10 3/4 oz.) cans tomato soup, (undiluted)
  • 1/2 Tbl. dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbl. heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar
  • 4 - 4 1/2 cups uncooked extra-wide egg noodles
  • 2 1/2 more cups shredded cheddar for top


  • In large deep frying pan, sauté first 8 ingredients. When almost done, stir in mushrooms and garlic, and sauté 2 minutes longer.
  • Stir in cans of stewed tomatoes and tomato soup, dark brown sugar, heavy cream, and 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese. Simmer over medium-low heat (low as it thickens) for 20-25 minutes to reduce and cook out any excess moisture/water, stirring occasionally as needed. Cover and set aside.
  • Cook noodles until almost done, drain and fold into cheesy beef mixture. (I only did mine for 5 minutes - - one minute less than the lowest recommended cooking time on the package.)
  • Pour into sprayed 13x9 baking dish and cover with foil.
  • Pop into preheated 350º oven and bake for 20 minutes (covered with foil). Top with the 2 1/2 cups cheese and bake for another 20-30 minutes until bubbly and cheese on top has melted. (*Time depends on how done and browned you like your cheese.)
  • Notes

    *I used 2 (8 oz.) bags Sargento Off the Block Sharp Cheddar Traditional Cut for this, divided , plus about a 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella that I added to the top that I had extra from something else and needed to use up. No cheese goes to waste in this house! 😉 Just use whatever brand of cheddar that you enjoy that doesn't melt greasy, and however much cheese makes you happy.



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    Sunday 25th of June 2023

    I used cavatappi pasta because I find egg noodles absorb way too much liquid and ends up super soggy. This was beyond yummy though! Definitely reminds me of my childhood.

    Paul Helton

    Saturday 26th of January 2019

    My wife suggested this for tonight. I jumped at the idea, as I have not had it for years. I was raised on Ft. Kobbe and in Los Rios in the Panama Canal Zone, in the 1950s. The recipe looks like the way my mother made it. My wife remembers it from her days in western PA. I'm sure we will love it. Thx!

    Jym Buss

    Tuesday 4th of September 2018

    You didn't say where to use the brown sugar - I assume you dump it in when you do the soups


    Wednesday 5th of September 2018

    Thanks for catching that, Jym! Yes, it's added with the tomatoes, soup, cream and cheese. Recipe directions are now corrected! :)

    michelle molodecki

    Friday 27th of July 2018

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It tastes the same as what I remember as a small child made by my great Aunt Gerry. She also had an old fashioned sugar cookie recipe which had sour cream in it but I can not find that anywhere. :-(

    Her pickled beets was another favorite, not sure what she put in it but I still crave them now 30 years later! Her old but trusty family cookbook was given to my mother, a master of cooking and baking, for keepsake and we can always call her when we want a recipe from our childhood. Love your recipes as well. Thank you.


    Sunday 19th of November 2017

    Thanks for the great recipe: It looks great; In my version I used rotini pasta. I substituted canned tuna for the ground beef I omitted the tomatoes and canned tomato soup, instead I used cream of mushroom soup I think my grandma is the greatest too.


    Monday 20th of November 2017

    They are one of a kind, aren't they? The foundation that holds everyone together! :D Thanks so much for stopping by, Shiqua! Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! :)

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