Although this cut is lean, it’s renowned for its fork-tender melt-in-your-mouth qualities. The question is, can a grilled beef tenderloin take the heat of the grill while still being the centerpiece of the table, or will it dry it out?
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Grilled beef tenderloin is a mouthwatering delicacy that boasts both tenderness and rich flavors. As one of the most prized cuts of meat, this luxurious beef recipe is often reserved for special occasions or fine dining experiences.
But we’re here to question why. We find that rolling this tender cut of beef over the flames of the grill is a great way to allow the natural flavors to shine while adding that smoky char everyone loves. And it’s so easy that it could easily become a regular main course for Sunday supper. Not just a feast reserved for special occasions.
🥩 The Cut: What is beef Tenderloin
The tenderloin is indeed the most tender cut of beef. It’s renowned for its texture and buttery flavor. But this cut, from just beneath the spine, is also incredibly lean and needs to be cooked with care. Because the muscle doesn’t bear much weight or receive significant exercise, it remains incredibly tender and lean compared to other cuts of beef.
To make sure to lock in the best flavor and retain that signature exceptional tenderness, it’s important to treat this cut with a delicate hand and not take it past medium-rare while cooking to achieve a melt-in-your-mouth experience. Always use a digital meat thermometer; it’s the easiest way to get the most accurate results and guaranteed perfect temperature.
You can easily find this expensive cut of meat at your local grocery store around the winter holidays. We buy it then and break down the whole tenderloin for a freezer filled with filet mignon steaks or a perfectly trimmed chateaubriand. We find that this saves us tons of money. Alternatively, if you aren’t seeing beef tenderloin in your market or are looking in the off-season, we recommend ordering from one of our favorite places to buy meat online.
- Whole beef tenderloin
- Kosher Salt
- Oil – olive oil, avocado, or canola oil all work
- Fresh Garlic cloves
- Fresh Rosemary
- Fresh Thyme
- Freshly ground black pepper
How to grill a whole tenderloin
We use the reverse sear method to slowly bring this tenderloin roast to temp before finishing it with a hot sear for a great crust and juicy medium-rare center. This method uses both direct and indirect heat for amazing results every time.
- Start by removing the full beef tenderloin from the package and patting it dry with paper towels. If it came pre-tied for you from the butcher, make sure to dry it under the tails that has been folded over and secured. If the tenderloin did not come tied, secure it with butcher’s twine every 2 inches or so, and simply fold the thinner tail back and secure it to make a roast that has an even thickness. Then liberally season the whole roast with salt. Place it on a wire rack nestled over a baking sheet and let it air dry in the fridge for at least 8 hours and up to 24.
- Then, make a paste for the tenderloin roast by adding the oil, minced garlic, minced rosemary, and thyme to a small bowl. Rub it all over the beef, making sure to get in between the seams. Let the roast sit at room temperature for 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat your grill and clean and oil the grill grates. Preheat the grill by turning all the burners on and letting the grill heat with the lid closed. Then set up a two-zone fire for indirect grilling by turning off two of the four burners or two of the three burners. This creates a hot side and a cooler side. If using a smoker box to smoke on a gas grill, add it to the grill grates over the hot side of the grill now to allow the smoke to form. Let the grill preheat to an even 300-325 degrees F.
- When the grill is ready, place the beef tenderloin roast on the grill grates on the cooler side of the grill. Close the lid and allow the beef to cook for about 30 to 45 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 105 degrees F with an instant-read thermometer.
- Next, using long grilling tongs, transfer it to the hot side of the grill, directly on the grill grates over high heat to sear and form a crust on the outside of the tenderloin. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, rotating as needed to sear all sides. The final internal temp should be around 120 to 125 degrees F.
- Immediately transfer the grilled beef tenderloin to a clean baking sheet or cutting board, top with a few slices of homemade compound butter (we love our garlic compound butter for this), and tent with foil. Allow the beef roast to rest for 10 minutes. As the tenderloin rests, it will continue to cook, with the internal temperature increasing another 5 to 10 degrees. Beef tenderloin is best served medium-rare, for the ideal steak doneness where you get a rosy pink center, signature fork-tender bites, and the best flavor.
- Finally, remove the butchers twice and slice the grilled tenderloin into 1″ thick portions. Sprinkle with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper, and garnish with minced parsley for a pop of color.
Girl Carnivore Expert Recipe Tips
For a charcoal grill
Prep the beef tenderloin as directed in the recipe card. And when ready to grill, set up your charcoal grill for a two-zone fire. Do this by arranging lit charcoal on one side of the grill. If using smoking wood, add it now to give the smoke time to burn clean (known as blue smoke). Nestle the grill grate back on and cover the grill with the lid. Adjust the air vents to allow the grill to preheat to 300-325F.
When ready to sear, remove the lid to allow maximum oxygen to build a hot fire with the coals. Once the coals are ripping hot (around 450 to 500 degrees F) sear the tenderloin directly over the hot side of the grill.
For a pellet grill
For a pellet smoker, the reverse sear method can be a little more tricky. Prep the beef tenderloin as instructed in the recipe card and set the pellet grill to 325 degrees F. Smoke the tenderloin as instructed. When it reaches 105F, remove it from the grill and turn your pellet smoker to sear. Allow it to preheat, and then finish the grilled beef tenderloin by searing all sides with that perfect crust before resting to serve.
We use Jack Daniel’s charcoal pellets to add that signature smoky flavor when grilling with our pellet smoker.
Side dish suggestions
This hearty beef tenderloin recipe is perfect for other grilled side dishes like our favorite steakhouse creamed spinach or cheesy Brussels sprouts au gratin. A foil-wrapped baked potato is always a good option, too, along with any of your favorite side dishes. And if you are looking to make this for Christmas dinner or another holiday meal, splurge and pair it with our smoked crab imperial recipe or a luscious bearnaise sauce.
Because this cut is lean and has a mild beef flavor, we recommend pairing it with a lighter red wine like Pinot Noir or Zinfandel.
Leftovers and Reheating
If you serve this as a beef tenderloin, there may be leftovers. To store, wrap any leftovers in tightly in aluminum foil. To reheat, slice off only what you need and reheat gently wrapped in an oven preheated to 325 degrees F. Alternatively, slice up leftovers for perfect beef tenderloin sandwiches, mix them into fluffy scrambled eggs, or serve as tacos.
This Grilled beef tenderloin recipe is an outstanding dish that offers melt-in-your-mouth bites and is sure to impress any dinner guests. Its tenderness, juiciness, and distinct flavor make it a favorite choice among steak enthusiasts. Whether enjoyed as the main course or paired with various accompaniments, this culinary chef-d’oeuvre never fails to deliver for special occasions. Fire up the grill; your holiday menu just got flame-kissed.
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Grilled Beef Tenderloin
For the grilled tenderloin
- 4 lbs Whole beef tenderloin
- 2 tbsp Kosher Salt
- 2 tbsp Oil olive oil, avocado, or canola oil all work
- 5 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tbsp fresh Rosemary minced
- 1 tsp Fresh Thyme
- 1 tsp Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tbsp compound butter
Prep the beef tenderloin
- Remove the beef tenderloin from the package and pat dry.
- Tie with butchers twine, being sure to fold back the tail to secure and make an even uniform thickness.
- Liberally season all sides with salt.
- Place on a wire rack over a baking sheet and air dry in the fridge for 8 to 24 hours.
Make the paste
- Combine the oil, garlic, rosemary, and thyme in a small bowl and mash with the tines of a fork to make a paste.
- Rub it all over the roast and allow the roast to sit at room temperature for 45 minutes.
Prep the grill
- Meanwhile, preheat the grill by turning on all burners for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Clean and oil the grill grates.
- Create a two-zone fire by turning off 2 of the 4 burners or 2 of the 3 burners to make a cool side and a hot side of the grill. If using a smoker box to smoke on a gas grill, add it to the grill grates over the hot side of the grill now to allow the smoke to form.
- Let the grill preheat to an even 300-325 degrees F.
Grill the beef tenderloin
- After the grill has preheated, place the beef tenderloin on the cool side of the grill grates.
- Close the lid and allow the beef to cook for about 30 to 45 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 105 degrees F with an instant-read thermometer.
Sear the beef tenderloin
- Using long grilling tongs, transfer it to the hot side of the grill, directly on the grill grates over high heat.
- Sear all sides to form a crust, 2 to 3 minutes per side and until the final internal temp should be around 120 to 125 degrees F.
Rest and serve
- Transfer the grilled beef tenderloin to a clean cutting board, top with a few slices of homemade compound butter, and tent with foil.
- Allow the beef roast to rest for 10 minutes. As the tenderloin rests, it will continue to cook, with the internal temperature increasing another 5 to 10 degrees. Beef tenderloin is best served medium-rare, 130-135F.
- Finally, remove the butchers twice and slice the grilled tenderloin into 1″ thick portions.
- Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and ground black pepper, and garnish with minced parsley and serve hot.
We use Cowboy Charcoal and Jack Daniel’s wood chips for this recipe. See all of our favorite fuels and tools in our shop. FOR A PELLET GRILL: For a pellet smoker, the reverse sear method can be a little more tricky. Prep the beef tenderloin as instructed in the recipe card and set the pellet grill to 325 degrees F. Smoke the tenderloin as instructed. When it reaches 105F, remove it from the grill and turn your pellet smoker to sear. Allow it to preheat, and then finish the grilled beef tenderloin by searing all sides with that perfect crust before resting to serve.
We use Jack Daniel’s charcoal pellets to add that signature smoky flavor when grilling with our pellet smoker.
The best steak temperature for beef tenderloin is medium-rare, 130-135 degrees F.
You could sear before, however, we use the reverse sear method for this cook and find that the results are more even from end to end.
No. While we love a good steak marinade for tough cuts of steak, beef tenderloin is the most tender cut of beef, with a mild buttery flavor. A marinade will only detract from this cut.