Beef Tenderloin Vs Filet Mignon | All the Differences Explained

April 25, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton

The beef tenderloin and filet mignon are from the same region in the loin primal at the cow's hindquarters. But they aren't the same. The primary difference is while the whole beef tenderloin is a part of the beef loin, the filet mignon is simply a part of the tenderloin. That means it's safe to say the filet mignon is a tenderloin. But all tenderloin cuts are not filet mignon.

Also, my experience with meat tells me the beef tenderloin is beefier in taste than the filet mignon. Clearly, both the tenderloin and filet mignon differ in size, butchery shape, tenderness, nutritional value, cooking speed, and cooking method required. To learn more details about all these differences, keep reading. 

tenderloin vs filet mignon

Which is Better: Tenderloin or Filet Mignon?

It depends on the specific quality you want in a beef cut.

If you want meat that's as extremely tender as butter, the filet mignon is obviously better. However, if you want a tastier cut of meat with a beefier flavor and less saturated fat, that's the tenderloin. As for me, I always choose the tenderloin!

Again, if you're cooking for a large occasion and need more steaks at the right prices, don't go asking for the filet mignon. It's one of the most expensive cuts of beef

The tenderloin can be used for roasts or beef wellington. It's also a good steak for barbecue since it has less fat and causes fewer sparks on the fire, which may be caused by fat drips. So it reduces the possibility of a fire. 

Beef Tenderloin Vs Filet Mignon Side-by-side Comparison Chart

Attribute

Tenderloin

Filet Mignon

Taste of the Meat

Mild, buttery, and beefy flavor

Mild and buttery

Where It's Found

Inside the beef loin around the hindquarters

Inside the tenderloin; at the triangular tip

Cholesterol (1oz Serving)

26.4 mg

20.1 mg

Total Fat (1oz Serving)

2.5 grams

5.7 grams

Cooking

Best cooked medium rare so it doesn't dry out

Best cooked rare to medium rare

Cost Per Pound

$20 to $30 from the butcher

$28 to $45 from the butcher; $65 to $120 at the steakhouse or restaurant

Beef Tenderloin Vs Filet Mignon: The Main Differences

Here's a detailed side-by-side analysis comparing the beef tenderloin and filet mignon steaks using elements like tenderness, taste, location, nutritional factor, and more:

Where They're Taken From?

The whole beef tenderloin meat is a muscle cut, shaped like a sword or snake in the beef loin. It's below the sirloin, above the top sirloin, and is bordered by the round close to the butt of the cow. 

The true filet mignon steak is that portion from the entire tenderloin that runs into the short loin and tapers down at the end to form a kind of triangle. 

The tenderloin on the other hand comes from the beef loin region where you also have popular steaks like the NY strip steak, porterhouse steak, and T-bone steaks. The entire tenderloin weighs 5 to 8 pounds. You can buy it as trimmed tenderloin or untrimmed tenderloin.

The untrimmed tenderloin usually has fat and silver skin from the sides of the cow that must be removed before it is cooked.

Tenderness

The entire beef tenderloin is the region whose muscle doesn't have any weight and does the least work in the cow. So, it's pretty tender. However, somehow, the tip of the tenderloin, the filet mignon, is more tender

Filet mignon steaks are more tender than the rest of the tenderloin because it extends out of the sirloin (where you have most of the tenderloin) into the central part of the cow.

When you check this diagram of the cow, you'd see the filet mignon runs into the short loin. The short loin, where most of the filet mignon is found, is more tender than the sirloin. That explains why the filet is more delicate than the beef tenderloin. 

Diagram of a Cow - Filet Mignon Location

Taste of the Meat

Beef tenderloin is a cut of boneless lean meat with a beefy taste. Like the filet mignon, tenderloin a bit milder and buttery in taste too. 

The filet mignon is also a lean cut of boneless beef, but it's not always as flavorful and as lean as the beef tenderloin. Here, the leanness in the tenderloin doesn't mean less flavor. 

The filet may have more fat but what makes the tenderloin tastier is due to its richer meat-to-fat content, which explains its beefier taste. 

Related Reading

Health Consideration 

Despite how expensive it is, my research shows filet mignon is not the best option for those watching their diets.  

For a serving size of 1 oz (28.35g), tenderloin has 59.8 calories, 22.7 of which is from fat. Filet mignon, on the other hand, has 75.6 calories, 51 of which is from fat. 

Another problem with filet mignon for those with health concerns is, as I showed in the comparison chart earlier on, it's a bit higher in saturated fats than tenderloin. 

There are 2.4 grams of saturated fats in a one-ounce serving of filet mignon out of 5.7 grams of total fat

On the other hand, tenderloin is more moderate in saturated fat (just 1 gram) out of total fats of 2.5 grams. 

So that means the beef tenderloin is leaner and healthier than the filet mignon.   

Cooking Method 

The beef tenderloin and filet mignon are lean beef cuts with little fat. Even the filet which is a little bit fatty, is still considered lean meat. So they must not be cooked for too long

Cooking filet mignon steak is very quick and easy for a chef. However, because they are pretty tender, you should not cook filet mignon past medium rare doneness. It's fine at rare to medium-rare.

The beef tenderloin can withstand heat a bit more but don't get it to medium doneness, or all its fats will render out and turn dry. 

One of the tricks I use to grill filet mignon is to have it wrapped in bacon to lock in the flavor and add fat to the edge of the meat.

You can cook the entire tenderloin muscle as one piece, though. Because it's larger than the filet mignon, you can cut tenderloin into chunks or medallions and then cook it.   

Cost

The beef tenderloin is not a cheap beef cut, but it's less expensive than the filet mignon. Still, you need at least $20 for a pound of tenderloin, which is still really high, considering that similar steaks like the New York strips are sold for around $12 to $15 a pound

The filet mignon tenderloin is considered one of the most costly cuts of beef. You can get a filet mignon from a butcher at $30 to $45 a pound. At a steakhouse or restaurant, you may spend more than a hundred dollars per pound. 

Raw Beef Tenderloin

Again, you'll understand why the filet mignon is expensive when you check the cow anatomy. 

It's located at the tip end of the beef tenderloin. There are only two filet mignon cuts in a cow, each weighing slightly over one pound

Because of its tenderness, it's one of the most sought-after by restaurants and high-scale steakhouses. This makes the filet mignon very rare and costly. However, it's not necessarily due to its quality.

Serving Size 

A single cut of filet mignon serves a single adult. On the other hand, a whole tenderloin that weighs five to eight pounds can serve six to 12 people on a table. 

Tenderloin Vs Filet Mignon: So Which Should You Choose?

I'll say the beef tenderloin and filet mignon are for different occasions. Beef tenderloin is a great option to serve your guests an exquisite dish. 

Meanwhile, filet mignon is that beef for when you want a plate of restaurant-quality beef. I don't advise you to serve filet mignon to a crowd.

Pan-Seared Filet Mignon Recipe

  • Cooking time: 15-20 minutes
  • Serving size: 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 (8 oz) filet mignon steaks
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Fresh thyme and rosemary, chopped (optional)

Instructions:

Step 1: Season the filet mignon steaks with salt and pepper on both sides.

Step 2: Heat a large skillet over high heat and add the olive oil.

Step 3: Once the oil is hot, add the filet mignon steaks to the skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side for medium-rare or longer if you prefer your filet mignon more well done.

Step 4: Remove the steaks from the skillet and set aside to rest for at least 5 minutes.

Step 5: In the same skillet, reduce the heat to medium and add the minced garlic and butter. Cook until the butter is melted and the garlic is fragrant.

Step 6: Add the thyme and rosemary, if using, and cook for another minute.

Step 7: Return the steaks to the skillet and spoon the butter mixture over the steaks.

Step 8: Cook for another 1-2 minutes on each side to allow the steaks to absorb the butter mixture.

Step 9: Remove the steaks from the skillet and let them rest for a few minutes before serving.

Step 10: Serve with roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, salad, or your choice of side dishes, and enjoy!

Filet Mignon and White Asparagus

Roasted Beef Tenderloin Recipe

  • Cooking time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Serving size: 8-10

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 lb beef tenderloin
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Fresh thyme and rosemary, chopped (optional)
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard

Instructions:

Step 1: Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

Step 2: Trim any excess fat from the beef tenderloin.

Step 3: Rub the tenderloin meat with the olive oil, and season it with salt and pepper, minced garlic, thyme, and rosemary.

Step 4: Place the beef tenderloin on a roasting pan.

Step 5: Spread the Dijon mustard over the beef tenderloin.

Step 6: Roast the beef tenderloin in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.

Step 7: Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). 

Step 8: Continue to roast the beef for an additional hour or until the internal temperature of the beef reaches 135 degrees F (57 degrees C) for medium-rare, 145 degrees F (63 degrees C) for medium, or 160 degrees F (71 degrees C) for well done. It all depends on what your doneness choice is. 

Step 9: Remove the tenderloin meat from your oven and let it rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing.

Step 10: Serve your beef tenderloin with your favorite sides like roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, or a salad.

Note: The actual cooking time may vary depending on the size of your beef tenderloin, so it's always a good idea to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the beef.

Related Reading

Roasted Beef Tenderloin

Conclusion 

Many people think that tenderloin and filet mignon are the same, with the only difference being that they have different names. If you think so too, I just burst your bubble. Tenderloin and filet mignon both look similar, but they have a few differences. 

Still, the filet mignon is also the tenderloin. However, not all tenderloin cuts are filet mignon. The tenderloin is a long portion at the top of the beef loin that runs under the animal's spine. On the other hand, the filet mignon is just at the tail end of the tenderloin. 

In the end, I'd ask you to always go for the tenderloin. It's tastier, easier to cook, less expensive, and above all, it has less saturated fat than the filet mignon and is healthier. 

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. Pitmaster Central is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for website owners to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon (.com, .co.uk, .ca etc) and any other website that may be affiliated with Amazon Service LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Keep Reading
Copyright 2024 Pitmaster Central, all rights reserved.