How to Cook Filet Mignon

Thanks to its divine tenderness, filet mignon is one of the best steak cuts. Because it can be grilled, skillet-cooked, or broiled in an oven, filet mignon recipes are great any time of year. We'll show you how to cook perfect filet mignon several ways to showcase the premium cut at its best. Plus, we've got delicious recipes for you to choose which you think is the best filet mignon recipe.

Two tested techniques ensure that your perfect cut of filet mignon is perfectly cooked. Here's how to prepare filet like a steak house.

The Best Ways to Cook FIlet Mignon

Cooking filet mignon is easier than you think! The first step of how to cook filet mignon: Put the slow cooker and stew pot away. The best way to cook filet mignon is quickly with direct heat. Opt for cooking methods such as grilling, pan-frying, or broiling. Long, slow cooking—or any kind of overcooking—will dry out this cut of steak, robbing it of not only its flavor but its tenderness, too. In general, beef filet mignon tastes best at medium-rare to medium doneness. Because tastes can vary, use your recipe's cook time for filet mignon as a guide and keep a close eye on your meat to prevent overcooking.

Tip: Regardless of cooking method, test for doneness using an instant-read meat thermometer toward the end of cooking time.

Related: Tips for grilling filet mignon

How to Choose a Filet Mignon Cut

First things first, buying your filet mignon steak. You can have beef filet mignon cut fresh for you at a supermarket meat counter or butcher, which allows you to specify the thickness you like. When buying filet mignon steak, or beef tenderloin steaks, look for cuts with even edges that are about 1 to 2 inches thick. We find 1 to 11/2 inches is the best thickness for filet mignon to get a juicy result. A few guidelines:

  • The meat should have good color and appear moist but not wet.
  • Any cut edges should be even, not ragged.
  • If prepackaged, avoid meat with tears in the packaging or liquid in the bottom of the tray. The meat should feel firm and cold to the touch.
  • Count on serving 3 to 4 ounces of meat per person.

Related: Tips for Selecting a Great Steak

How to Grill Filet Mignon

Learn how to grill filet mignon, and you can use this technique for any special occasion or fancy dinner. Follow these directions for grilling on either a charcoal or gas grill:

  • For direct grilling: Grill filet mignon, covered, over medium heat. Turn once during grilling time as determined by the thickness of your filet mignon steak and your desired doneness. Use the following timings for how long to grill filet mignon by direct grilling:
    • For a 1-inch cut, grill 10 to 12 minutes for medium-rare (145°F) or 12 to 15 minutes for medium (160°F).
    • For a 1-1/2-inch cut, grill 15 to 19 minutes for medium-rare (145°F) or 18 to 23 minutes for medium (160°F).
    • Transfer the meat to a platter. Cover the meat with foil and allow it to stand for 5 minutes before serving.
  • For indirect grilling: Prepare your grill for indirect heat using a drip pan. Grill filet mignon, covered, over indirect medium heat for the amount of time determined by steak thickness and desired doneness. 
    • For a 1-inch cut, grill 16 to 20 minutes for medium-rare (145°F) or 20 to 24 minutes for medium (160°F).
    • For a 1-1/2-inch cut, grill 22 to 25 minutes for medium-rare (145°F) or 25 to 28 minutes for medium (160°F).
    • Transfer the meat to a platter. Cover the meat with foil and allow it to stand for 5 minutes before serving.
      • Indirect grilling tip: There's no need to turn food grilled indirectly because the air circulates around the steaks like an oven.

Food safety tip: Always test doneness with an instant-read thermometer to ensure your steak is safe to eat.

How to Cook Filet Mignon in a Skillet

Cooking filet mignon in a cast-iron skillet is a great way to make sure your meat is extra tender and flavorful. If you don't have a cast-iron skillet, you can still cook a perfect filet mignon steak on your stove top with another kind of heavy skillet:

  • Select a heavy skillet that is the right size for the amount of meat you are cooking. The meat should fit snugly in one layer. If the skillet is too large, the pan juices can burn. If it's too small, the meat may steam rather than brown.
  • Measure the meat's thickness. Pat the meat dry with paper towels (dry meat browns better than wet meat).
  • Lightly coat the skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Or use a heavy nonstick skillet.
  • Preheat the skillet over medium-high until very hot. Add the meat. Do not add any liquid and do not cover the skillet.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and cook until medium-rare to medium (145°F to 160°F). Turn the meat occasionally for even browning. If the meat browns too quickly before the interior is done, reduce the heat to medium-low.
    • For a 1-inch filet cook 10 to 13 minutes for medium.
  • Transfer the cooked filet mignon to a serving platter. Cover the meat with foil and allow it to stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Try It: Beef Tenderloin with Wine Sauce

How to Cook Filet Mignon in the Broiler

Learning how to broil a filet mignon makes serving an extra-special meal unbelievably easy. Follow these instructions and use the times below as a guide for cooking this steak cut:

  • For cuts that are less than 1-1/2 inches thick, position the broiler rack so the steak will be 3 to 4 inches from the heat. For cuts that are 1-1/2 inches thick, position the broiler rack so the steak will be 4 to 5 inches from the heat.
  • Preheat the broiler for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Place filet mignon steaks on the unheated rack of the broiler pan.
    • Tip: Make dinner even more decadent by cooking bacon-wrapped filet mignon. 
  • Using the following timings, broil the meat, turning once halfway through the broiling time:
    • For a 1-inch cut, broil 12 to 14 minutes for medium-rare (145°F) or 15 to 18 minutes for medium (160°F).
    • For a 1-1/2-inch cut, broil 18 to 21 minutes for medium-rare (145°F) or 22 to 27 minutes for medium (160°F).
  • Transfer the broiled filet mignon to a platter and tent with foil. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Try our broiled Filet with Crab Topping recipe that's also wrapped in bacon! It's one of our best filet mignon recipes.

Flavored Butters to Serve with Filet Mignon

Because filet mignon lacks fat and marbling, consider serving it with a sauce or topping to add flavor and moisture. Add flavor to your meat in the form of a sauce or flavored butter. Hollandaise Sauce is classic, or try one of these flavored butters, which can be made in advance. Simply place a tablespoon of the butter on the filet after the standing time and just before serving.

  • Herb Butter: In a small mixing bowl beat 1/2 cup softened butter, 2 teaspoons snipped fresh thyme, and 2 teaspoons snipped fresh marjoram or oregano with an electric mixer on low speed until combined. Cover and chill for 1 to 24 hours.
  • Blue Cheese Butter: In a small mixing bowl beat 1/2 cup softened butter and 2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese with an electric mixer on low speed until combined. Cover and chill for 1 to 24 hours.
  • Chipotle-Cilantro Butter: In a small mixing bowl beat 1/2 cup softened butter, 1 teaspoon chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, and 1 tablespoon snipped fresh cilantro on low speed until combined. Cover and chill for 1 to 24 hours.

Try our Seasoned Roasted Garlic Butter as a filet mignon sauce alternative. If you want a filet mignon sauce, make this Filet Mignon with Portobello Sauce.

What is Filet Mignon?

A filet is a boneless cut of meat or fish, and mignon is a French word that means cute or dainty. A filet mignon, then, is a "dainty filet." It's pronounced fih-LAY meen-YAWN.

A filet mignon is cut from the tenderloin, which lies in the middle of the animal's back. Because the muscles in this area are not overly exerted, their tendons do not toughen—and that's why a tenderloin is so tender. Strictly speaking, filet mignon comes from the tail end (the smaller end) of the tenderloin; it is generally only 1 to 2 inches in diameter. However, you can use beef filet mignon and beef tenderloin steaks (cut from other parts of the tenderloin) interchangeably. Both are usually cut 1 to 2 inches thick, though beef tenderloin steaks tend to be larger in diameter (2 to 3 inches). Try our Grilled Steakhouse Filets with Lemon-Grilled Asparagus which calls for beef tenderloin steaks to see what we mean.

Note that what you gain in tenderness, you lose a bit in flavor—the lack of marbling, fat, and bone diminishes the beefy taste of these cuts. That's why tenderloin steaks are often served with sauces, toppings, or pan juices. Steak houses also often serve beef tenderloin steaks wrapped in bacon to keep them moist while cooking and add meaty flavor.

 

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