How to Cook Beef Tenderloin

The tenderloin is the gold standard of beef cuts. It's tender, versatile, and easier to cook than you might think. Learn how to do it right with our step-by-step guide.


Buy Just the Right Amount

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Beef tenderloin is so popular (and expensive) because it's so tender and rich. The good news is the butcher will trim the tenderloin so only the most tender meat remains, which means you only need to buy as much as you need. To determine how much tenderloin you need to purchase, use the chart below. Plan on four servings per pound of tenderloin.

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Cut

Weight

Approximate Roasting Time
(based on meat directly from refrigerator)

Final Roasting Temperature
(when to remove from oven)

Tenderloin roast
(cooked at 425°F)

1 pound

35 to 40 minutes
45 to 50 minutes

140°F (145°F medium rare after standing)
155°F (160°F medium after standing)

 

2 to 3 pounds

35 to 40 minutes
45 to 50 minutes

135°F (145°F medium rare after standing)
150°F (160°F medium after standing)

 

4 to 5 pounds

50 to 60 minutes
60 to 70 minutes

135°F (145°F medium rare after standing)
150°F (160°F medium after standing)

Whole Tenderloin and Center-Cut Tenderloin Roasts

Step 1: Prep the beef

Trim any fat and silver skin (thin, pearlescent membrane running along top of tenderloin) from the tenderloin. Season as desired. For a whole tenderloin, fold under the tapered end (tail) or cut it off for more even cooking. Timings below are based on meat removed directly from the refrigerator.

Step 2: Roast or grill the tenderloin

Roast: Browning the tenderloin first is optional, but it does caramelize the outside and lock in the juices. In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Quickly brown the tenderloin on all sides in the hot oil. Transfer the roast to a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Preheat oven to 425°F. Insert an oven-going thermometer into the center of the tenderloin. Roast, uncovered, until desired doneness according to the timings below. Transfer meat to a cutting board and cover with foil. Let stand for 15 minutes before slicing. The temperature of the meat will rise during this time (this is reflected in the timings below).

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Cut

Description

How to use it

Whole tenderloin roast, trimmed

This is a long, cylindrical, boneless cut from the loin. Usually about 4 to 6 pounds.

Cooked whole, it is ideal for larger groups. Roast it or grill it.

Center-cut tenderloin roast

This cut, from the center portion of the tenderloin, is the most consistent portion with regard to size. Because the butcher needs to cut this roast, you can request the size you need.

Consider this smaller cut for Sunday dinner or date night. Roast it or grill it.

Butt end

This is the larger end of the tenderloin.

Cut it into thin steaks, which are good for grilling or sautéing.

Tail

This endpiece tapers in size, so it is hard to yield consistent roasts or steaks, though it still offers the same tender meat.

Cut it into bite-size pieces or strips for recipes that benefit from tender meat, such as kabobs, stir-fry, or stroganoff.

Tenderloin steaks

This cut is from the center or butt end of the tenderloin. Filet mignon steaks come from the small end of the center cut.

These steaks are excellent for grilling, broiling, or sautéing. Consider finishing the steaks with a sauce.

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Grill: For a charcoal grill, arrange medium-hot coals around a drip pan. Test for medium heat above the drip pan. Place meat on the grill rack over drip pan. Cover and grill, allowing 3/4 to 1 hour for a 2- to 3-pound roast (135°F) and 1 to 1 1/4 hours for a 4- to 5-pound roast (135°F). Add more charcoal to maintain heat as necessary. (For gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Adjust heat for indirect cooking.) Cover and let stand for 15 minutes before slicing. The temperature of the meat will rise 10°F during the standing time.

For more tenderloin roast recipes, see:

Easy Slow-Roasted Beef Tenderloin

Rosemary Beef Tenderloin

Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Mediterranean Relish

Tenderloin Steaks

Step 1: Prep the beef

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Start with beef tenderloin steaks cut 3/4 inch to 1 inch thick (1 inch for grilling). Trim fat from steaks. Season as desired. Timings below are based on meat removed directly from the refrigerator.

Step 2: Saute or Grill

Sauté: Heat skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add 1 tablespoon butter and reduce heat to medium. (Or spray cool skillet with nonstick cooking spray before heating; continue as directed.) Cook, uncovered, for 7 to 9 minutes for 3/4-inch steaks or 10 to 13 minutes for 1-inch steaks to desired doneness (145°F for medium rare and 160°F for medium).

Grill: For a charcoal grill, place meat on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals. Grill to desired doneness, turning once halfway through grilling. Allow 10 to 12 minutes for medium rare (145°F) or 12 to 15 minutes for medium(160°F). (For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place meat on grill rack over heat. Cover the grill.) Remove steaks from grill; cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

For more tenderloin steak recipes, see:

Grilled Steak and Peppers

Grilled Beef Fillet with Portobello Relish

Beef Tenderloins with Wine Sauce

Try filet mignon! Our best filet mignon cooking tips.


How to Roast Beef Tenderloin
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