Johnny Marzetti Casserole

Johnny Marzetti Casserole

I think that I have bipolar food disorder.  One day I feel exotic and experimental and the next day all I want is comfort food.  For comfort food I either head towards mashed potatoes and gravy (with a side of fried chicken) or a rib-sticking pasta something with a tomato sauce something.  Today I needed a rib-sticking pasta something with a tomato sauce something.  Kinda strange the way that works.

For some reason Johnny Marzetti popped into my head.  I haven’t made it in years, so I Googled it and found a few bazillion recipes for it, no two alike.  For a brief history of this 1920’s casserole, see this article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The staples of this casserole consist of ground beef, onions, a tomato sauce, pasta, and cheese.  Tomato soup and cream of mushroom soup appear frequently in Johnny Marzetti recipes as do various combinations of green peppers, celery, and mushrooms.  Some of you may be throwing up a little in your mouth thinking about the addition of canned soups to anything except the trashcan and may secretly blame the use of them for early onset Alzheimer’s, but they have their place in the American food culture of the 1950’s, ’60’s, and 70’s.

Below is my own version of Johnny Marzetti and tonight when I got home from work it tasted mighty good.  I hope that you’ll give it a try.

Johnny Marzetti Casserole

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Johnny Marzetti is an easy classic pasta casserole, first developed in the 1950's. A surprise ingredient, cream cheese, enriches the simple tomato sauce.


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2-3 cups sliced, fresh mushrooms (I used crimini)
  • 1 small green or red pepper, small dice
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 (29 ounce) can pureed tomatoes
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup (I used Campbell's Healthy Request)
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese (light cream cheese is fine)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder or granulated onion
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder or granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound of pasta (I chose penne)
  • grated cheese, type and amount as per personal preference Sharp cheddar, mozzarella, or a pre-shredded Italian blend are commonly used.


  1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Lightly spray a 9" x13" baking dish or similar size baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large, deep skillet over medium heat cook ground beef, onions, garlic, peppers, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt and pepper just until the vegetables begin to soften, stirring as needed. Add the sliced mushrooms and continue to cook over medium heat until the mushrooms are soft. Stir as needed. (I covered my skillet to help return some of the moisture to the mixture.)
  3. Stir in the tomato puree, cream of mushroom soup, and oregano. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat.
  4. Cut the cream cheese into cubes and stir into mixture. Cook and stir until cream cheese is well blended into the sauce. Taste sauce and correct seasonings.
  5. Prepare pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain well. Add the pasta to the sauce and stir well.
  6. Pour into prepared casserole dish. Bake at 350-degrees for about 30 minutes or until cheese has melted and casserole is hot and bubbly.


The casserole can be lightened up by using extra lean ground beef, low-fat cream cheese and low-fat cream of mushroom soup. A jalapeno pepper brings a touch of heat, but not too much. Red pepper flakes can be added to pump up the heat factor.

Recipe by Terri @ that's some good cookin'

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Baked Spaghetti
Chicken Dressing Casserole
Chicken and Dressing Casserole
Beef Stroganoff
Beef Stroganoff


  1. Anonymous says

    I think this is my favorite website-my secret weapon to break up the bland schedule of my usual dinners 🙂 (except for the amazing meatloaf, not bland, made it atleast once a week since discovering!)

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