Cooking with Herbs – Oregano

Cooking with Oregano

Oregano - In flower

Oregano – In flower

You might think of pizza or Greek food when you think of oregano. This spicy and slightly fuzzy leaved herb is very easy to grow, adds great flavor to many dishes, and looks pretty in both the garden and, in flower arrangements.

Growing Oregano

Oregano is native to the Mediterranean and likes hot weather. It’s an herbaceous perennial, which means it dies back to the ground during winter and regrows each spring. Like other Mediterranean herbs, oregano requires lots of sun and well-drained soil. It can be grown from seed but is readily available at local nurseries and since it comes back every year, you might just want to invest in one that is ready to go. There are several varieties to choose from, including some that are very ornamental like Origanum laevigatum or Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum,’ however, if you want to cook with it, stick to one that is labeled “culinary,” like Greek oregano or Italian oregano. In addition, you may have heard of Mexican Oregano, which is actually Plectranthus amboinicus, a cousin to O. vulgare, used in many Latin American dishes.

Harvesting Oregano

Oregano can be harvested once the plant reaches over four inches tall. Simply snip a few stems as needed. Frequent cutting will make a nice, bushy plant and a longer harvest. Remove the leaves for cooking as the stems are slightly woody and can be bitter.

Oregano StatsPreserving Oregano

Oregano is best known as a dried herb. It is easily dried on a screen or hung in bunches in a warm dry place. Once dry, defoliate the stems and place them in an airtight container or plastic bag. The freezing method also works with oregano. Chop up the leaves and place them into ice-cube trays with a little olive oil or water. Once frozen, you can pop out the cubes and then place them in a plastic bag and back into the freezer. This way, you can easily grab one or two when you need it.

Cooking with Oregano

Fresh oregano works with many dishes to add flavor and spice. I use it in vinaigrette for my salad and many tomato based pasta dishes. The dried form is just as good–maybe even better. Even though I don’t grow Mexican oregano, I use it in chili. And when I make fajitas (a family favorite), I marinate boneless, skinless chicken breasts in olive oil, lime juice and lots of oregano. This hearty, peppery herb adds a nice punch to any recipe and has become a strong staple in our household.


Lemon Oregano Chicken

Creamy Herbal Cheese Spread

About Patti Estep

Patti is the creator of Hearth and Vine, a home and garden blog filled with projects to inspire your creative side. She loves crafting, gardening, decorating and entertaining at her home in Pennsylvania. When she is not working on a project at home or searching for treasures at nurseries and thrift stores with her girlfriends, you’ll probably find her with family and friends, at a restaurant, or home party enjoying new and different food adventures.

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  1. I just started growing my own herbs this summer. Would love if you kept doing posts about how to use/cook with the different ones!

    • Hi Krystle,

      I’m sure I will be writing about herbs in the future. There are two more in the Thursday series (parsley & thyme) coming up. I’m will be giving you a recipe for lemon thyme cookies which may be right up your alley. Mostly you can think of herbs somewhat like salt and pepper. Especially once you get used to their flavor you will know which to add to many of your dishes. Have a great Monday and thanks for stopping by.


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