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What is Tenderloin Steak (or Filet Mignon)? How Should Your Grill it?

Tenderloin steak - also known as filet mignon - is the most tender cut on the whole cow. Highly prized and with a price tag to match. Learn all about it in this guide.

Emma Braby

Last Updated: June 30, 2020 | 6 min read

Two raw tenderloin filet mignon, tied on a chopping board

You don’t need to be beef mad to know what the tenderloin steak is. But quite simply put, it’s the tender steak from the loin muscle of the steer.

It’s regarded as one of, if not the most tender cuts of beef, and with that comes a lot of drool-worthy recipes, but also a premium price tag.

It’s known by many names, but whatever you call it, it’s my personal favorite!

It might not offer the most intense beef flavor, but it’s certainly mouth-wateringly buttery and succulent.

Best with simple seasoning and ingredients, you’ll have your guests coming back for more if you serve these steaks up right.

After reading this tenderloin steak guide, you’ll understand exactly what it’s, where it comes from, how to cook it, where to get your hands on it, and why everyone goes mad over it.

So, readers, all aboard the tenderloin train!

What is Tenderloin Steak?

Also known as the Filet Mignon, it is the steak cut from the tenderloin, a muscle that gets next to no exercise.

For this reason, it’s so tender, and one of the most prized cuts of all time. It’s fit for Royalty, it’s elegant, and it’s saved only for the best occasions – it really is the King of Steaks.

Where Does Tenderloin Steak Come from on the Cow?

diagram showing where on the cow the loin primal comes from
image courtesy of beefitswhatsfordinner.com

The tenderloin is one long muscle that stretches across two primals, the Sirloin and the Loin. It comprises of 3 cuts, the tail, the center-cut, and the butt.

The Filet Mignon steaks come from the Short Loin end of the loin muscle, or the tail end, and are small in size.

The muscle is also known as the Psoas Major, which runs the length of the carcass alongside the longissimus dorsi, which we have covered previously.

Due to the fact the cow doesn’t stand upright, this muscle isn’t used, which means that it’s put under less stress and is the reason it remains so tender.

Other Names for the Tenderloin Steak

three raw beef tenderloin steak with parsley leaves and peppercorns

This cut is also known as the Filet Mignon, which means ‘small filet’ in French, and in the United Kingdom, it’s also known as the Fillet.

It also goes by a few other names worldwide:

  • Beef Loin
  • Butt tenderloin
  • tenderloin Medallions
  • Chateaubriand
  • Filet de Boeuf

Anyhow, I bet my bottom dollar that there is no butcher out there that will not know what a tenderloin steak, or Filet Mignon, is!

And if there is, they need to find a new profession!

Flavor, Texture, Fat Content And Tenderness

Have we mentioned that the tenderloin steak is tender? Just in case, it is as tender as anything you’ll ever come across – if cooked right of course!

Rather than punching your taste buds with intense beefy flavors, it soothes your tongue with buttery succulent goodness.

It doesn’t contain any connective tissue, and it’s very fine-grained. It has a very small amount of marbling, which provides the soft buttery flavor.

Typical Uses

A steak that is delicate in taste and super tender is typically used only as standalone, as the forefront of any dish.

Some like it entirely on its own so that the delicate taste can be thoroughly appreciated. In contrast, some like to accompany it with a creamy sauce to enhance it’s flavor.

Because it’s so tender, it’s also commonly used in posh pies such as Beef Wellington, wrapped in soft pastry.

Nutritional Info

NutritionTotal Amount (Based on 3oz Serving)% Daily Value (based
on 2000 calories/day)
Calories1709%
Saturated Fat2.8g15%
Protein26g52%
Iron3mg15%
Zinc3.9mg25%

Buying Tenderloin Steak

Almost always finding itself among the most popular steaks, it can be found in all supermarkets and butchers alike.

And while you don’t have to buy the most expensive ones, you certainly get what you pay for when it comes to quality beef.

Tenderloin steaks will come trimmed of any of the surrounding skin and fat, with no bones, and therefore no preparation needed from you.

Sometimes it’s sold wrapped in bacon, as this prevents the meat from drying out during the cooking process, as well as adding a little flavor.

Be warned though, the rasher is usually kept in place with a wooden or metal pin during cooking, so check it out before you jump in!

Where to Buy tenderloin Steak Online

marbled beef tenderloin steak with peppercorns and rosemary

There is a wide variety of great online meat markets to choose from. And not only do they allow you to browse through all of their selected cuts, but you can do so from the comfort of your own home.

Once you’ve read about the rearing pedigree for the beef and its quality, all you have to do is decide which night you want your special tenderloin steak, and wait for it to be delivered to your front door.

Here are some of the best online meat outlets around:

Tenderloin Steak Price

The tenderloin only makes up 2% to 3% of the edible meat that comes from a steer, which is why it has earnt its high price tag, limited availability, and sky-high popularity.

At the time of writing, the price can set you back anywhere between $30 to $40 per/lb.

The good news is that you can buy it in varying sizes, from a 4oz to a 12 oz steak.

Portion Size: How Much Tenderloin Steak Per Person?

The tenderloin is a little different from most steaks in that they’re normally as high as they are wide, unlike others that are long and flat.

This is because they come from a long cylindrical piece of muscle.

How much you serve per person all depends on the type of meal you make and the sides to accompany it.

Even with a smaller 4 to 6oz piece, you can create a fantastic meal with sauces and sides, and this will suit the average appetite.

How to Prepare Tenderloin Steak for Grilling or Smoking

Two Tenderloin Filet isolated on white
Image courtesy of BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com

They are very easy to prepare as they arrive ready trimmed of any surrounding fat, so there is no extra prep needed to remove connective tissue, unlike some steaks.

Some already come ready wrapped in bacon, which can add flavor during the cooking process. So if you want the extra flavor, you may need to wrap it. This is easily done with a good rasher of bacon and some cooking twine or pins.

However if you wish to enjoy it as it is, all you need to do is add a little salt and pepper.

If you plan on smoking a tenderloin steak, it will take beautifully to the low and slow cooking method.

If you smoke a large cut, you will need to tie it. This is because it tapers towards the tail end, so this section needs to be compressed to keep it’s shape is more uniform, which allows it to cook more evenly.

How to Cook Tenderloin on a Grill or Smoker

The key to a great grilled tenderloin steak is the accuracy of the temperature you cook it at. Here is our guide to getting it right every time.

  1. As always, the first step is to get your grill fired up and at the right temperature. Aim for around 450f. If not, it’s generally a medium to high heat because the steak can be up to 2 ½ inches thick.
  2. Get the steaks out of the fridge and up to room temperature, approximately 30-45 minutes before you want to cook them.
  3. Lightly season with salt and pepper to encourage the beef to release some extra flavor.
  4. Place them on the grill and close the lid, cook for 3 minutes and then open and turn 90 degrees and cook for another 2-3 minutes, this gives the nice crossed grill mark to your steak.
  5. Flip the steaks and do the same on the other side until the internal temperature reaches 125f, for a medium-rare finish after resting, and 130-135f for a medium finish. We don’t recommend cooking past medium if you want a tender melt in your mouth meal.
  6. Remove from the grill and tent in foil. Leave to rest for 5 minutes, and enjoy!

Three Best Tenderloin Steak Recipes from Around the Web

A cooked tenderloin filet mignon, sliced in half on a chopping board

Do a quick google of the tenderloin or Filet Mignon and you will be spoilt for choice for good recipes and various ways to cook it to perfection. But if you literally can’t wait to get grilling then here are a few of our current favorites from around the web:

Oven-Seared Beef tenderloin with Herb Pan Sauce

This simple and easy creamy sauce is a must. The secret is using the leftover meat juices and crispy beef remnants to flavor the butter before creating the sauce. Amazing.

Click here to see the full mouth-watering recipe:

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/244816/oven-seared-beef-tenderloin-with-herb-pan-sauce/

Beef tenderloin Steaks with Blue Cheese Topping

A standalone steak is a joy to behold in all its beef bravado, but sometimes you can’t beat a good blue cheese sauce to ignite the taste buds and create the perfect duo.

This match made in heaven can be found here:

https://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/recipes/recipe/180/beef-tenderloin-steaks-with-blue-cheese-topping

The Ultimate Beef Wellington

We’re sure you’ve heard of a Beef Wellington, and if not, wow, are you in for a treat!

Like a 5-star steak pie, it’s a whole Filet Mignon wrapped in prosciutto ham, mushroom duxelles, and pastry, then baked to perfection. An absolute delight.

Want to try something a little fancy? Head over to this recipe:

http://www.foodnetwork.co.uk/recipes/ultimate-beef-wellington.html

Conclusion

There’s no denying that the tenderloin is something special. It’s an incredibly tender piece of meat that even the most ardent of steak cynics would enjoy.

Just enough flavor to hit that steak craving, while having no gristle or fatty bits to interrupt your enjoyment.

So, if you’re looking for a show-stopper that everyone will enjoy, the tenderloin steak will tick all the boxes. But whatever you decide to do with it, do your homework and get a good understanding of how best to cook it, because if you don’t, it’s an expensive mistake to make.

Let us know in the comments below if you have any questions!

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