For some folks telling tenderloin and filet mignon a part is like differentiating the difference between royal blue and cobalt blue.
Most people think tenderloin and filet mignon are the same cut of beef.
These people believe the only difference between these two cuts is their name.
However, although they are similar in appearance, tenderloin and filet mignon are very different.
What Is Tenderloin?
Tenderloin is a long strip of beef used to produce whole roasts or steaks.
Beef tenderloin originates from the back of the cow. Specifically, the tenderloin is beneath the sirloin and in front of the round.
Compared to other enormous primal and sub primal cuts like chuck, sirloin tip, and rib, the tenderloin is petite. Therefore, it is loved by steak aficionados.
Additionally, tenderloin tends to be more expensive than brisket or pork shoulder since it does not yield a lot of meat.
Tenderloin is also super tender since the animal hardly uses the muscle.
The beef tenderloin comes in two types: trimmed and untrimmed. Trimmed beef tenderloin has most of the fat and silver skin removed.
In addition to this, the medallion on the side of the meat is removed.
As you can imagine, trimmed beef tenderloin is more expensive than its counterparts because it contains less fat and silver skin than untrimmed tenderloin.
Most people prefer trimmed beef tenderloin since it does not include the additional prep work of removing the fat and silver skin.
In contrast, untrimmed tenderloin is cheaper. The price is probably closer to that of ribeye steaks or Tomahawk steaks.
As I mentioned above, there is more prep work involved with untrimmed beef tenderloin since you have to trim the beef yourself.
Trimming beef tenderloin is also referred to as peeling since you are peeling off the silver skin and fat.
First, the medallion is carved away from the tenderloin using a sharp knife.
There is a seam that acts as a road map you can follow while you are removing the medallion. Next, peel and cut away the fat and silver skin.
You can easily remove the longer bands of fat by pulling them away from the tenderloin using your hands.
Alternatively, you can leave it on and let the grill do the work for you. The fat will render away as soon as the tenderloin hits the grill.
You can easily find the silver skin because it’s a thin transparent membrane with a glossy silver sheen.
Unfortunately, the silver skin is much more resistant, so the heat generated by your portable pellet grill will not be enough to break down the silver skin while it’s cooking.
Therefore, you need to pull the silver skin off the tenderloin while in its raw state.
What Is Filet Mignon?
Filet mignon is carved from the portion of the tenderloin that spans into the animal’s short loin.
Similar to its counterparts, filet mignon is exceptionally tender.
This tenderness comes from the fact that this part of the tenderloin barely gets any action.
Therefore, the tenderloin is the most tender cut of beef on the animal.
Although it is implied that you can fabricate the entire tenderloin into filet mignon, butchers can only fabricate a couple of filet mignon steaks from the tenderloin.
So, it is more scarce and costs more than the average porterhouse steak or Denver steak.
Tenderloin vs Filet Mignon
Know that you know what tenderloin and fillet mignon are; we can compare these two tender cuts of beef to figure out which cut is better.
Cut of Beef
As I mentioned above, filet mignon and tenderloin are often lumped into the same category because they are fabricated from the same muscle.
However, the tenderloin is the entire muscle.
In contrast, the filet mignon is the part of the muscle that’s closer to the tenderloin’s point side.
In addition to this, you can buy the entire tenderloin, while you can purchase filet mignon in round-shaped pieces.
Both tenderloin and filet mignon are small cuts of beef.
However, beef tenderloin is larger than its counterparts since it contains the filet mignon.
Therefore, if you want to cook for more than a few people, it would be best to cook beef tenderloin.
However, if you are cooking for 2-3 people, it would be best to cook filet mignon.
Usually, fat and bones serve as insulators while preparing the meat. However, it cooks at lightning speed because filet mignon is fat-free and boneless.
Even though the tenderloin is also low-fat and boneless, it still takes longer to cook than its counterparts because it’s much larger.
Because of its size, beef tenderloin is usually roasted in the oven at 425°F, just shy of an hour to achieve the perfect medium-rare (135°F).
In contrast, the filet mignon can be seared in a skillet on the stovetop and finished in the oven.
Regional Butchery Differences
Depending on where you live, there may be differences in the way filet mignon and tenderloin are cut.
For example, French butchers carve the animal into smaller sections using muscle sections.
The tenderloin is divided into the filet mignon (front), châteaubriand (middle), bifteck (tail end).
Americans, on the other hand, consider the tenderloin to be a larger cut of steak.
For example, T bone steaks contain a portion of the filet mignon, while porterhouse steaks contain a section of the châteaubriand.
Unfortunately, both the tenderloin and filet mignon are lean boneless cuts of meat. However, both cuts are tender.
Filet mignon is more tender than tenderloin since it is used even less.
Tenderloin is more versatile than its counterparts. It can be prepared whole and sliced into medallions once it’s cooked.
In contrast, you can also slice it into medallions before it’s cooked and serve it as individual steaks.
On the other hand, filet mignon can be wrapped with bacon that is held in place by a toothpick to enhance its flavor.
Sadly, both the tenderloin and filet mignon do not rank well in the flavor department.
Nevertheless, the flavor of the tenderloin and filet mignon can easily be enhanced by cooking them with foods that have a robust flavor, such as bacon or herbs.
Remember, the tenderness makes these cuts of beef popular, not the taste.
How to Grill Filet Mignon
When it comes to filet mignon, simple is best. First, remove the filet mignon from the refrigerator 30 minutes before you intend to grill it.
Season both sides of the fillet mignon with salt and pepper and let it come to room temperature for 30 minutes.
Do not overseason the filet mignon; you can always add a sprinkling of salt just before you serve the steak.
Do not let the filet mignon sit at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
The steak will be overrun with so many bacteria that it becomes unsafe to eat. Heat your grill to 450°F.
Place the filet mignon onto the grill and cook it for 5 minutes.
Flip the filet mignon over and cook it for an additional 5 minutes.
Ideally, the filet mignon should have a temperature of 125°F for the perfect medium-rare.
If you cook the filet mignon any longer, it will probably be overcooked.
Make sure you use an infrared thermometer to monitor the filet mignon’s internal temperature.
Place the filet mignon onto a plate, cover it loosely with foil, and let it rest for 10 minutes.
The steak will come up to 140°F, which is the recommended temperature for medium-rare as it rests.
What Are Good Substitutes for Beef Tenderloin and Filet Mignon
Truthfully speaking, beef tenderloin, as well as filet mignon, may be out of your budget, but there are still some alternatives.
Nevertheless, nothing beats the tenderness of beef tenderloin and filet mignon.
However, there are some cuts of steaks that are just as beloved as the tenderloin and filet mignon.
Best of all, these steak alternatives are way cheaper.
For example, T-bone steak and porterhouse steak have a piece of the tenderloin, so you will still get to indulge in the tenderloin.
Ribeye steak is also a good substitute since it contains a piece of tenderloin. However, ribeye steak is pricier than porterhouse and T-bone steaks.
Ribeye roasts can also be used in place of tenderloin since it has a similar degree of tenderness.
Pork tenderloin is also a great substitute, but if you want to stick with beef, you can also use a sirloin butt roast.
Interestingly enough, the best substitute for filet mignon is sirloin steak.
However, the sirloin steak must be sliced into thin pieces to be almost as tender as filet mignon.
Alas, the tenderloin and filet mignon are two very confusing cuts of beef, so it’s understandable if you get confused.
Hopefully, I’ve cleared up the confusion surrounding these cuts of beef.
As for whether beef tenderloin or filet mignon is better, I leave this decision up to you.
You might also be interested in the following comparisons:
- Porterhouse Vs. Ribeye
- Sirloin Vs. Ribeye
- Tomahawk Steak Vs. Ribeye
- Porterhouse Vs. T Bone
- Filet Mignon Vs. Ribeye
- Prime Rib Vs. Ribeye
- Sirloin Vs. Tenderloin
- Filet Mignon Vs. Sirloin
- New York Strip Vs. Ribeye
- T-Bone Vs. Ribeye Steak
- New York Strip Vs. Sirloin
I have been smoking and grilling meat from an early age and enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise through the hundreds of articles I have written about BBQ. I hope to make everyone’s BBQ journey that little bit easier.