McCormick Science Institute



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Oregano Page Main

Oregano is the dried leaves of the herbs Origanum spp or Lippia spp (Mexican). Both varieties have traditionally been harvested in the "wild." The Mediterranean variety is closely related to Marjoram and is very similar in physical appearance. "Oregano" means Marjoram in Spanish, and although sometimes referred to as "Wild Marjoram" it is a different herb.


Mediterranean Oregano, which gained its popularity after the troops returned from WWII, is found in much of Italian cuisine: pizza, spaghetti sauces, and other tomato-based sauces. Mexican Oregano is found in chili powders and adds flavor to chili con carne and other Mexican dishes.


Turkey is the principal supplier of Oregano to McCormick. It is stronger flavored and more bitter than the Greek variety. The Mexican type has a distinctively different flavor which is less minty, more hay-like and less bitter than the other sources.


The word "Oregano" is Greek, derived and translated means "Joy of the Mountain". Oregano was popular in ancient Egypt and Greece as a flavoring for vegetables, wines, meats and fish.

Quick Facts

Whole Oregano Leaves
Whole Oregano Leaves
Ground Oregano
Ground Oregano


Light to dark green

Flavor & Aroma

Strongly aromatic; slightly bitter

Sensory Profile

Oregano is generally described as possessing a strongly aromatic, camphoraceous aroma and a slightly bitter, pungent flavor. This pungent flavor is composed of earthy/musty, green, hay and minty notes. The spice imparts a slightly astringent mouthfeel.