Cooking a whole beef tenderloin is actually much easier than you think—and absolutely worth the effort for melt-in-your-mouth filet mignon! I'll walk you through the steps to creating a perfectly roasted beef tenderloin for your next dinner party, holiday meal or Sunday roast.
Learning how to cook a whole beef tenderloin can be intimidating, but with the right recipe and technique, you'll be able to impress your guests and feel like a pro.
This is a dish that's sure to impress at any gathering. make. It's elegant yet approachable and always gets rave reviews. I especially love it around the holidays—it's one of my go-to authentic Italian Christmas dinner ideas!
This is a straightforward, no-fuss recipe that utilizes what's known as a "reverse sear" technique, meaning the meat is first cooked low and slow, then browned under the broiler. This leaves you with a roast that's evenly pink throughout with a nice crust on the outside.
The key is choosing a good quality beef tenderloin, seasoning it just right and roasting it to perfection.There are so many ways to customize and serve this simple beef tenderloin recipe!
Add homemade jumbo crab cakes or a bowl of lobster bisque to your meal for an incredible 'surf and turf' dinner. Pair it all with a classic French potato gratin, creamed spinach, and a big, bold red wine for a true Steakhouse experience!
Why this recipe works
- It's more than just a recipe - this extensive guide breaks down everything you need to know to make a perfectly roasted whole beef tenderloin.
- Tender, juicy, and flavorful!
- The "Reverse Sear" technique produces even, juicy results with a great outer crust.
- It's all about temperature, not time, to remove any guesswork.
- Great for a holiday dinner yet simple enough for a low-stress weeknight dinner.
- Whole Beef Tenderloin: Most grocery stores usually have packaged whole beef tenderloins. If you don't see them on display, just ask your butcher. They might have one in the back, or they can order it for you. The price for a whole tenderloin can vary a lot depending on the size, quality, and when and where you buy it. On average, a whole, untrimmed USDA Choice Angus beef tenderloin costs around $10-$30 per pound. Depending on the type of beef you prefer (grass-fed, organic, or prime), it can cost more. Look for whole tenderloins on sale around the holidays, especially in the days right after. Shoot for about one pound of beef tenderloin per person.
Note: Because of the reverse sear technique, most seasonings other than salt and pepper will burn and taste bitter. Different spices, seasonings, and sauces can be added afterward for more flavor.
- Meat Probe Thermometer: One of my favorite and most used kitchen tools. A meat thermometer is essential for making sure your beef tenderloin is perfectly cooked without any guesswork.
- Large Sheet Pan: A whole beef tenderloin is big, so you'll need a big pan to fit it. I use a half sheet pan and usually don't have any problems.
- Butcher's Twine: This is crucial for tying up a beef tenderloin so that it roasts evenly. Butcher's twine has many uses in the kitchen, so I always make sure I have some on hand.
Trimming the beef tenderloin
1) Pat the tenderloin dry and remove "the chain." This is a long piece of meat, fat, and connective tissue that runs down the side of the loin. There are two ways you can remove it: Pull it with your fingers or use your sharp Butcher's knife to help you.
2) Next, you'll want to get rid of the silver skin (just like it sounds). Use a super sharp knife for this part. Turn the blade away from you, angle it up a bit, and slice along the very top of the meat, being careful not to take too much of the flesh underneath.
Tip: A boning or fillet knife works best for this job.
3) For the last step in the prepping process, tie your beef tenderloin up with butcher's twine. Make sure to tie it tight enough to hold the meat together but not so tight that the twine presses into the meat. This keeps the loin nice and compact for even roasting. Repeat every 2-3 inches.
*You can always ask your butcher to prepare the meat for roasting, including grinding up the trimmings. Sometimes they will charge a fee for this, but a lot of the time, they won't (always ask first). Personally, I like to be in control, so I do it myself, but sometimes you just don't have the time or patience, so don't hesitate to ask your butcher to do the heavy lifting. It's their job!
Cooking the beef tenderloin
4) Let your meat sit out at room temperature for about an hour before roasting. Meanwhile, go ahead and preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Once that's done, simply place the loin on a sheet pan, and you're good to go!
5) Rub the beef all over with the olive oil. Then, generously sprinkle and rub all of the sides with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
6) Insert the probe thermometer into the center of the meat. Pop the roast on the middle rack of the oven and cook until it hits your preferred internal temperature (check out the chart below).
7) Remove the probe, then move the pan up to the top rack of the oven and switch on the broiler. Keep a close eye until it's nicely browned on top, for around 30 seconds to a minute, then grab a pair of tongs to give it a quarter turn. Repeat until all 4 sides are browned.
8) Remove from the oven, cover with foil, and let rest for at least 15-20 minutes or longer. Slice and serve as desired.
Choose your meat temperature
Use these temperatures as a guideline for cooking a whole beef tenderloin with the reverse sear technique. The numbers are lower than what you'll typically see because they account for the extra cooking during the broiling stage, as well as the carry-over cooking that occurs while the meat rests.
- Rare: 115-120 degrees F
- Medium-Rare: 125-130 degrees F (recommended)
- Medium: 135-140 degrees F
- Medium-Well to Well-Done: 145 degrees F (don't go any higher than this.)
Tips for success
- Don't throw away the trimmings from your beef loin! Freeze them in a zip-top bag and use them at a later date (See FAQ for ideas).
- Make sure your meat sits out at room temperature for 30-60 minutes before roasting for even results.
- Do not line your pan with parchment paper, or it will catch on fire when broiling. If you insist on lining your pan, use tin foil.
- Shoot for a medium rare temperature in the center of the roast. The skinnier parts will be more well done, and the fatter parts will be rare, ensuring there is a perfect piece for everyone in your group.
- Be sure to remove the probe thermometer before broiling the meat, otherwise, it could be damaged by the extremely high temperature.
- Never ever skip the resting stage when preparing a whole beef tenderloin. Cutting the meat too soon after cooking will result in dry meat sitting in a puddle of juice. Rest at least 15-20 minutes for juicy meat.
With the simplicity of this roasted beef tenderloin, the sky is the limit when it comes to putting together the perfect Italian dinner!
Start with an antipasto of your choice or a simple appetizer like this roasted mushroom crostini with a side of Meyer lemon olives. Pair that with a glass of red wine to enjoy with the rest of your meal. Chianti, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Bordeaux are all nice!
For the main course, serve a few slices of this beef steak with a delicious potato side dish. You can make these rosemary potatoes and onions or go for a rich potato gratin (or swap it out and make a cauliflower gratin instead). You can also never go wrong with a scoop of creamy mashed potatoes!
Add your favorite veggie side dish as well. My personal go-to's are sauteed broccoli rabe and classic creamed corn for a steakhouse feel. For a traditional Italian flair, consider making this wild mushroom risotto.
And you can't have a juicy piece of beef tenderloin without a delicious sauce to go with it! Some options include a horseradish cream sauce, a red wine bordelaise sauce, chimichurri sauce, or Italian salsa verde. Even just some good old-fashioned steakhouse sauce can do the trick.
Finish off your meal with a decadent chocolate dessert. My chocolate hazelnut panna cotta would pair perfectly with this meal, but you can never go wrong with a classic chocolate chip cookie or a fudgy salted caramel chocolate brownie!
Tenderloin is a cut of beef that comes from the loin section. It runs along both sides of the spine and is one of the most tender cuts of beef.
While both the tenderloin and filet mignon come from the same part of a cow, they are not exactly the same.
The tenderloin is a long, slender cut of beef that runs along the spine. It's known for its tenderness and is where the filet mignon comes from.
Filet mignon, on the other hand, is a steak usually cut from the narrower end of the tenderloin. It's often cut into thick portions and is regarded as one of the most premium, luxurious, and tender cuts of beef available.
So basically, all filet mignon is beef tenderloin, but not all beef tenderloin is filet mignon!
When selecting a beef tenderloin, look for one with minimal visible fat and consistent thickness throughout. This will ensure even cooking.
For a boneless beef tenderloin, plan on one pound of meat per person if you're serving it as a main course. If it's part of a larger meal with other dishes, you can get away with about ½ pound per person.
One pound of meat may seem like a lot for one person, but the loin will be smaller after trimming and roasting, and it's always better to have leftovers than not having enough.
No, many people choose to leave the tenderloin untrimmed. The upside is that it looks bigger and feeds more folks.
The downside? Your guests have to deal with the fat and connective tissue themselves, tossing those scraps in the trash instead of putting them to good use.
Trimming the meat gives you a smaller loin, but it cooks more evenly and results in round, meaty pieces of steak with nothing to cut off.
I recommend running them through a meat grinder or having your butcher do it for you (I use the KitchenAid Meat Grinder attachment).
The ground beef that you get from this will work great in any recipe you want and will give you a burger that's super juicy, full of flavor, and absolutely delicious.
If you have any extra trimmings, just pop 'em in the freezer and grind them up later.
Pro Tip: Meat is easier to grind when it's partially frozen!
Don't worry about time. If you want consistently good results, just go by temperature.
That being said, plan for around 2-3 hours to trim, roast and rest, but remember that the actual time will depend on the size of your loin.
The "reverse sear" technique involves cooking meat low and slow initially and then quickly searing it at the end to brown the exterior (in this case, broiling).
It's kind of the opposite of the traditional method where you sear the meat first and then finish cooking it in the oven. Bur the awesome thing about this reverse sear technique is that it makes the meat juicier and evenly cooked throughout while still giving it a nice crust on the outside.
Leftover beef tenderloin is perfect for making sandwiches and a delicious salad. I really enjoy a few slices of the juicy beef with this heirloom tomato salad. The bleu cheese crumbles and fried shallots in the salad go perfectly with the rich and tender beef.
You could also serve the beef tenderloin as a protein in a pasta or risotto dish. I especially enjoy eating it with a generous helping of wild mushroom risotto. The earthiness of the mushrooms and the creaminess of the risotto cut through the richness of the beef for a perfect bite.
And, of course, you can never go wrong with a classic steak and eggs for breakfast (or dinner!). The beef can be a part of an omelet or served with eggs and toast.
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