How to Roast Beef Tenderloin (aka filet of beef or Chateaubriand) ~ I’ll give you easy instructions for the perfect roast, no muss no fuss ~ just juicy meat! Ideal for special occasions and holiday meals.
Roasting a beef tenderloin is simple, simple, simple
You don’t need a culinary degree, a video, complicated marinades, or lots of confusing instructions. Cooking a large cut of meat is easy and practically foolproof, just be sure you’ve got your instant read thermometer handy, it will be your best friend.
beef tenderloin (aka beef filet or Chateaubriand)
It’s probably the poshest cut of beef, incredibly tender and my personal favorite. Filet mignon steak is sliced from the whole tenderloin, so you know it’s special.
Beef tenderloin is from the loin portion of the cow, and is a long piece of meat that can range from 2-6 pounds. It’s low in fat, and very tender. It should be tied with butcher’s twine to help it cook evenly.
(Pssssst: this is a lot easier than roasting a turkey, and everybody will appreciate the break from the bird.)
How to buy a beef tenderloin
Many butchers will stock tenderloins, and you can find them at stores like Costco. If you shop at a regular supermarket you’ll want to order one ahead of time from the meat counter.
For a holiday meal you’ll want a whole tenderloin, and that will feed approximately 8 – 10 people. Allow at least 1/2 pound per person in your calculation. For more people you can cook multiple tenderloins. For a family meal, you can purchase a smaller piece, the butcher can cut it down for you.
Be sure to ask for your meat trimmed and tied. Trimming removes any tough ‘silverskin’ and excess fat, and tying insures that the meat is at an even thickness so it will cook evenly.
What you’ll need
- a 4-6 pound beef tenderloin, trimmed and tied
- olive oil
- large flake salt
- multi colored peppercorns (green, pink, black, and white) ~ crushed with a rolling pin
- garlic or garlic powder
- large roasting pan that can accommodate your tenderloin (I use a baking sheet)
- instant read meat thermometer ~ this simple tool will make you a more confident cook
For the optional garlic butter sauce (you know you want it)
- 1 stick butter
- 3-4 cloves garlic
Why I don’t marinate my meat
In my opinion marinating is an unnecessary step. A quality cut of meat like the tenderloin is fabulous in itself, and doesn’t need extraneous flavors to disguise it. A simple salt and pepper rub ads subtle flavor and lets the meat itself shine through.
The whole concept of marinating meat has been challenged in recent years, I discuss it in my Sauerbraten post. The gist is that studies have shown that flavor does not actually penetrate the meat, even after lengthy marinades, and many marinades can actually make meat mushy. This jibes with what I’ve observed over the years. If you’re interested in the subject you can read more about the myths of marinating, here.
Important tips for cooking beef tenderloin
- Take the beef out of the refrigerator and leave on the counter (covered) for an hour or 2 before cooking. This allows the meat to come closer to room temperature which in turn allows the meat to cook more evenly. If you put cold meat into the oven the center will not cook properly.
- Season well. A tenderloin is a large cut of meat that does not have much fat in it. A generous amount of salt and pepper will help flavor every slice. Pat it on to make sure it sticks.
- Make sure you preheat your oven and it is hot before you slide the meat in. You’re going to sear it first, then lower the heat to finish cooking.
- Use an oven thermometer to check for the correct temperature, don’t rely on timing alone. See temperature chart below for exact temps.
- Let the meat rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10 minutes before slicing to allow the juices to settle back into the meat.
Popular methods for roasting beef tenderloin
There’s no right or wrong way, and as you can see, there are multiple techniques for cooking this cut of meat.
Certified Angus Beef (the method I’m using) sears the meat in a 450F oven for 15 minutes and then turns down the heat to 325F to finish cooking.
Ina Garten slides the seasoned roast into a 500F oven and cooks for 25 minutes for medium rare.
The Pioneer Woman cooks her at 475F for 20-25 minutes.
America’s Test Kitchen grills the filet for 12 minutes on the hot side of a gas grill, then finishes on the cooler side (300F) for another hour or until it reaches 125F inside.
Favorite sauces for tenderloin of beef
This is almost my favorite part ~ I love what a great sauce can bring to beef.
Browned butter garlic sauce ~ an easy peasy pan sauce that never disappoints, and what I used today.
Creamy horseradish sauce is a classic. Sour cream is blended with fresh grated horseradish and a touch of vinegar and salt. Simple and powerful, I love it.
Cranberry horseradish sauce would be spectacular for the holidays.
Chimichurri ~ nobody knows beef better than the Argentinians, and their signature herb sauce is epic with tenderloin.
What goes with filet of beef
- French Potato Onion Gratin
- Green Bean Casserole
- Roasted Apple and Radicchio Salad
- Creamed Brussels Sprouts
- Asparagus Puff Pastry Tart
- Buttered Rutabagas
- Butter Pecan Pumpkin Souffle
- Sweet Corn Spoonbread Casserole
- Cheesy Zucchini Casserole
How to serve beef tenderloin
- Beef tenderloin can be served whole, and sliced at the table, or sliced ahead of time. Just be sure to have a large platter handy.
- For holidays and special occasions I like to frame the meat with sprigs of mixed herbs.
- This dish is perfect for Christmas because the green and red peppercorns fit right into the holiday color scheme.
Forget all about those carving lessons you got from your uncle
This tenderloin is a cinch to slice up. Just grab your sharpest knife and cut into thick or thin slices (after it has rested for 10 minutes, of course.) It’ll slice like butter! Arrange them on a platter and surround with a few fresh herbs for looks.
This is an ideal main course for any holiday, when I think you’ll really appreciate the ease of prep. While your friends and family are enjoying their appetizers you can slide it in the oven and know it will be done to perfection in under an hour.
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How to Roast a Whole Beef Tenderloin
- Instant read meat thermometer
- 1 4-5 pound beef tenderloin, trimmed and tied
- olive oil
- coarse salt
- 3 Tbsp multicolored peppercorns
Garlic browned butter sauce
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- Remove the meat from the refrigerator and let rest on the counter for 1-2 hours, covered.
- Preheat the oven to 450F
- Crush the peppercorns either in a small food processor, a spice grinder, or with a rolling pin. Crush them to a rough cracked stage, it's fine if a few are still whole.
- Rub the meat all over with olive oil. Then salt it generously, all over.
- Press the crushed peppercorns onto the surface of the meat, all around the tenderloin. Arrange the meat in your roasting pan or on your baking sheet.
- Roast at 450F for 15 minutes, then, without opening the door, turn the heat down to 325F and continue roasting until an instant read thermometor inserted in the thickest part reads 125F for mediun rare. (the internal temp will rise a bit as it rests.) The exact time will depend on your particular roast, mine took about 30 minutes.
- Let the meat rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10 minutes before slicing.
- In the meantime make the sauce: melt the butter over medium heat in a small heavy bottomed saucepan and add the smashed garlic cloves. Cook the butter until it turns a golden nutty brown, stirring or swirling the pan almost constantly. Watch carefully because the butter can go from golden to burnt very quickly. If your butter isn't turning brown, just keep cooking, it will. It should only take a few minutes. I like to use a silicone spoonula to scrape the bottom of the pan so nothing scorches. Remove the garlic cloves and add salt to taste.
- Use a sharp carving knife to slice the meat. You can do 1/2 inch slices, or go for larger, filet sized slices, it's up to you.
- Arrange the sliced beef on a platter, surround with herbs, if you like, and drizzle with the sauce. Serve extra sauce on the side.
notes and variations
Internal temperature chart for cooking beef
|Medium Rare||130-135 °F||Pink|
|Medium||135-145 °F||Some Pink|
|Well||145-155 °F||Sliver of Light Pink|