What is an onion pique?

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An onion pique (oignon piqué in French) is a traditional French culinary technique where a chef attaches one or more bay leaves to an onion by pushing whole cloves through the leaves into the onion (like thumb tacks).

Where would you use an onion pique?
Onion piques are traditionally used in bechamel sauce, although you sometimes find them in other very traditional French recipes.

Why would you use an onion pique?
Attaching the bay leaf to the onion with the cloves makes it easier to take all three of them out of your dish once they’ve been infused and are no longer needed.  Other than that, there’s no culinary reason why you couldn’t just throw all three ingredients into the pot separately.

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10 Responses to “What is an onion pique?”

  1. 1
    Brittany says:

    Thank you your site was very useful!!

  2. 2
    watermelondrea says:


  3. 3
    watermelondrea says:

    cool. thanks…..

  4. 4
    Doug says:

    I’m pretty sure its Piquette and not Pique.

  5. 5
    Matthew says:

    Hi Doug,

    Thanks for commenting! I double checked, and according to the Culinary Institute of America’s “The Professional Chef” (9th ed), it is indeed piqué.


  6. 6
    alex solares says:

    I’ve bin a chef for a long time and never herd of pique just food garni or sach

  7. 7
    Patrick Reubinson says:

    So what is an onion cloute?

    IMO the onion pique is an onion studded with only cloves and traditionally used in blanquettes. Whereas the onion cloute has the bayleaf impaled by two cloves and is used, primarily, in flavouring the milk for a sauce Béchamel.

  8. 8
    Matthew says:

    Hi Patrick,

    Very interesting! Thanks for sharing. The above photo & definition are based on what I was taught in culinary school, but I think you may well be correct about the old definition of the two terms. However, I just double-checked the definition in a pretty definitive culinary school textbook – Wayne Gisslen’s “Professional Cooking” (eighth ed), and he provides the same answer – that the pique includes the bay leaf. Having done some further research online, it looks like a lot of chefs were similarly taught that the pique includes the leaf.

    I think it’s likely that the modern definition is morphing, at least in the US.

    Still, I think it’s very helpful to have your comment covering the alternate term here as well. Thank you!

    Marx Foods

  9. 9
    Alok Patra says:

    Please update always information

  10. 10
    Alok Patra says:

    Please tell me what is that? But i hear it’s cloute.