Pettine was not believed to be the Browns' first choice, but the former Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator has been appointed, with the club confirming the news on Thursday.
"We are thrilled to announce Mike Pettine as the new head coach of the Cleveland Browns," owner Jimmy Haslam said in a statement. "Mike is the epitome of what we want the Browns to be - tough, aggressive and innovative - with a blue-collar, team-first mentality.
"He knows what's necessary to beat teams in the AFC North. Most importantly, Mike has repeatedly shown the ability to lead his players to consistent improvement and success, clearly what we are striving for as he leads the Cleveland Browns moving forward."
The Browns finished the 2013 season with a 4-12 record.