My favorite whole beef tenderloin recipe: made in the oven, deliciously medium/medium rare, and makes the perfect beef tenderloin every time. This meaty main course is a must have at the holidays for my family, and it's a great go-to recipe for feeding a fancy crowd, too.
Fun fact: there's a fancy steakhouse in downtown Charleston on Broad Street ( you know who you are ) that likes to serve sliced beef tenderloin during restaurant week and call it Filet Mignon on their menu.
This begs the question ...
Are beef tenderloin and filet mignon the same thing?
Filet Mignon is a steak that is cut specifically from the small end of the tenderloin. Simply slicing a tenderloin doesn't make it filet mignon. Convention would dictate that a beef tenderloin that has been cooked and then sliced should be called "Sliced Beef Tenderloin."
Although it may be intimidating to cook such a large and expensive piece of meat, with just a few straightforward tips, you'll have guaranteed success.
First, either buy a trimmed tenderloin or trim the meat yourself. Costco's price for trimmed tenderloin is really exceptional ( around $18/lb depending on where you live ), so I usually go with that and spare myself the trouble.
BUT! If you want to do the work yourself, it's simple.
How to trim a beef tenderloin
You'll need to remove two things from the meat: the chain and the silverskin. The chain is the long hunk of fat, interspersed with small pieces of meat, that runs along the side of the bulk of the tenderloin. The silverskin is a tough piece of connective tissue that is absurdly chewy and absolutely should not be a part of your fancy meal!
- Remove the chain first. Run your fingers along the hunk of fat. It should at least partially remove from the meat fairly easily. Then, use a knife to shave the rest of the chain off of the main part of the tenderloin, and discard it.
- Now, you can remove the silverskin. The silverskin looks like a thin, white/shiny wrapping on the meat. You'll need to carefully run your knife under the skin to remove it from the meat. It's easiest to do this in a few strips instead of trying to get it all at once.
That's it! Now you're ready for the next step of preparation.
How to tie a beef tenderloin
There are all sorts of gorgeous fancy ways to tie a tenderloin, but if it's your first time, do it like the pictures above and below:
- Cut equal lengths of butcher twine ( found at any grocery store )
- Pat the tenderloin dry
- Tuck the thinner side under the meat so that the tenderloin is roughly the same diameter along the entire length
- Tie the twine tightly in a double knot every 1" along the loin
Now that you've trimmed, tied, and seasoned your meat, you are ready to cook it! Roasted beef tenderloin in the oven is one of my favorite ways to cook it. It's SO simple, and really hands-off, which is great when you're cooking for a party and have a million other things on your plate to fuss with.
How to Cook Beef Tenderloin in the Oven
- Preheat the oven to 475 F while you tie the tenderloin ( instructions above )
- Season the tenderloin with salt and pepper and any other herbs you'd enjoy. Scroll down to see my preference!
- Bake until a meat thermometer registers 1350F for medium rare ( meat will continue to increase in temperature as it rests after cooking). See below for a more in-depth temperature guide and timing.
I highly recommend cooking beef tenderloin to Medium Rare, if not Rare. But if you MUST cook it a different temperature, here's a guide:
Beef Tenderloin Temperature Chart
This chart dictates at which temperature you should remove a whole tenderloin from the oven while baking. After reaching this temperature, the meat will still need to rest, loosely tented in foil, for a minimum of 15 minutes in order to come up to full temperature.
- Rare: 120 F
- Medium Rare: 130 F
- Medium: 140 F
- Medium Well: 145 F
- Well: just don't. You are lucky I listed Medium Well.
Remember: the best way to be sure of the temperature of the meat is to use a meat thermometer like this one! It's a very inexpensive insurance policy on your very expensive dinner. I like this one in particular because you can move the red tag on the edge to your target temperature and then just wait for the dial to line up. You can click here or on the image to check it out. If you purchase, I get a very small kickback that helps keep the lights on at Basil & Bubbly at zero additional cost for you.
Truly Special Side Dishes worthy of serving with Beef Tenderloin:
- Gratin Dauphinoise ( Potatoes Gratin, y'all! )
- Southern Macaroni and Cheese
- Thick and Creamy Mashed Cauliflower
- 4 - 5 lb beef tenderloin trimmed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 Tablespoon Rosemary fresh, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 475° F. Pat the beef tenderloin dry and tie it up according to the directions in this post.
- Mix the salt, pepper, and rosemary together.
- Rub the spice mix all over the tied tenderloin.
- Place the tenderloin on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes for Medium Rare, or until a meat thermometer registers 130° F.
- Remove the meat from the oven, loosely cover with foil, and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes.
- Slice and serve!