Coherent structures and mixing in the flow field of a jet in crossflow have been studied using computational (large eddy simulation) and experimental (particle image velocimetry and laser-induced fluorescence) techniques. The mean scalar fields and turbulence statistics as determined by both are compared for circular, elliptic, and square nozzles. For the latter configurations, effects of orientation are considered. The computations reveal that the distribution of a passive scalar in a cross-sectional plane can be single- or double-peaked, depending on the nozzle shape and orientation. A proper orthogonal decomposition of the transverse velocity indicates that coherent structures may be responsible for this phenomenon. Nozzles which have a single-peaked distribution have stronger modes in transverse direction. The global mixing performance is superior for these nozzle types. This is the case for the blunt square nozzle and for the elliptic nozzle with high aspect ratio. It is further demonstrated that the flow field contains large regions in which a passive scalar is transported up the mean gradient (counter-gradient transport) which implies failure of the gradient diffusion hypothesis.