Easy Roast Beef Tenderloin with Peppercorn Sauce is the perfect meal for the holidays. Or serve it for a romantic Date Night!
This easy Beef tenderloin recipe, which is in tight competition with my prime rib roast, may just be the perfect Christmas, holiday, or special occasion dinner.
The presentation of a whole beef tenderloin roast is impressive. That's second only to how great it tastes.
Whole beef tenderloin can seem intimidating, but this recipe will show you how to trim it, cut it and cook it.
It's really quite easy.
Where to buy beef tenderloin
Since beef tenderloin is a favorite special occasion dinner, we usually buy it around the holidays. Added bonus: it tends to be on sale at this same time.
While Costco always has beef tenderloin for sale, it is still very pricey. That's the price you pay for Prime beef. Too much for me.
Our local supermarket always has beef tenderloin on sale around the holidays. We bought the tenderloin featured in these photos for $6.99/lb. I can live with that.
We prefer to buy the whole UNTRIMMED beef tenderloin. You save money by trimming it yourself. Don't worry: I outline how to do it below.
An added benefit of buying a whole tenderloin is that you can cut it into a roast, the chateaubriand, and/or individual filet mignon steaks. At the thickness YOU want.
How much beef tenderloin per person?
I figure ½ pound (8 oz) of uncooked beef tenderloin per person.
Feel to free to scale up or down depending on the appetite of your guests.
Keep in mind, beef tenderloin leftovers are never a bad thing. Hint, hint.
How to trim beef tenderloin
The budget-friendly strategy of buying a whole beef tenderloin does mean that you have some trimming and slicing to do. But it's very easy!
For a great tutorial on trimming the beef tenderloin, check out this helpful YouTube video: Trimming and Tying Your Whole Holiday Tenderloin by Wegmans.
Keep in mind that our post is about roasting the chateaubriand.
We remove the ends and the head and cook only the center cut of the tenderloin.
Removing silver skin from the beef tenderloin
It's critical to remove the silver skin.
This is a shiny, bluish strip of connective tissue that runs most of the length of the tenderloin. It will not break down during the roast and is inedible.
Because this strip is so tough, it's easy to slide a sharp knife underneath and cut it away.
Removing the chain
Along one edge of the tenderloin is the chain: you can locate it and pull it apart with your fingers.
Then, use a knife to completely separate it from the rest of the roast.
Removing the head
You'll notice a large "head" at one end of the tenderloin: find the separation point and remove with a knife.
Cutting the beef tenderloin into steaks
Is beef tenderloin filet mignon?
These steaks are usually cut into 1 ½ to 2 ½ inch thicknesses from a trimmed beef tenderloin.
The head of the tenderloin, depending on its size, can be cut into filet mignon steaks as well.
In fact, many restaurants call this the VIP cut: it has more marbling thus more flavor and is reserved for their best customers.
The Chateaubriand cut
The chateaubriand is technically not a steak, but rather a roast.
Since this recipe uses the Chateaubriand, this is first cut to make on the trimmed whole beef tenderloin.
The chateubriand is the center-cut portion of the beef tenderloin.
This will yield the most tender meat and also makes for a beautiful presentation.
Locate the largest and most uniform thickness of the tenderloin and cut the length of roast you want to prepare.
For this recipe, we chose a 12" section. It was a perfect fit for our cast-iron skillet and was more than enough for our party of five.
Remaining pieces of beef tenderloin
After trimming your chateaubriand and filet mignon steaks, you will be left with some random size pieces meat.
This meat is awesome and should not be discarded.
You can trim off the fat and cut them into chunks for stew, chili, shish kebabs, steak bites, beef stroganoff, and more.
Some people leave the fat on (not the silver skin) and grind it into hamburger.
How to tie beef tenderloin
Beef tenderloin is a wonky cut that isn't a uniform thickness, so tying the roast every 2–3 inches with butcher's twine helps us even out this thickness.
We also tie once around the length of the roast.
If you are roasting the entire tenderloin (rather than cutting off the ends), you can tuck the thin ends underneath the roast before tying to make the thickness more uniform.
How to cook beef tenderloin
Seasoning for beef tenderloin
We prefer a very simple rub of salt and pepper. This allows the beef flavor to shine through.
Other popular seasonings are granulated garlic and/or onion and rosemary.
Because we use a dry brine for this recipe (see below), be sure that any additional seasoning you choose to apply does not contain salt.
Dry brining (Optional)
This beef tenderloin recipe involves a dry brine in kosher salt.
Dry the meat with paper towels and liberally salt. Then set on a rack (to allow air flow around the entire roast) and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, but up to 48 hours.
The salt draws the water out of the meat, creating an intense brine that is eventually sucked back into the meat, naturally adding flavor while also ensuring that you'll get a great sear and juicy meat.
For a thorough explanation of the science of dry brining, see How to Dry Brine.
However, if you don't have the time for the dry brining step, you can simply salt and pepper right before searing the roast and the results will still be fantastic.
Applying the seasoning rub
One hour before cooking, pull the roast from the refrigerator at let it come up to room temperature.
Dry the meat thoroughly with paper towels before applying generous amounts of freshly ground black pepper. Massage the pepper around the entire roast.
If you did not dry brine with salt earlier, also add generous amounts of kosher salt on all sides of the tenderloin now.
First, sear the roast in a cast-iron skillet
Preheat the skillet over medium-high heat for 5–6 minutes. Add oil.
Then, when the oil starts shimmering, place the tenderloin in the skillet and sear the first side for 1 ½ - 2 minutes.
Repeat for the next two sides, then place final side down and insert a leave-in thermometer in the thickest part of the roast.
There's no need to sear the fourth side. It will sear from the residual heat from the skillet when you turn it down and place it in the oven.
PS: If your roast is too big for your skillet, you can cut it in half and cook the halves side-by-side. Be sure to leave room between the halves to that they can cook uniformly.
Finish cooking the beef tenderloin in the oven
Put skillet in the oven and roast until the leave-in thermometer reads about 10–12º F below your target internal temperature (see chart below).
Remove from the skillet and rest uncovered on a cutting board for a minimum of 20 minutes.
When is beef tenderloin done?
To me, the perfect final internal temperature for beef tenderloin is around 135º–140º F, which is a nice medium rare.
We removed our roast from the oven when the leave-in thermometer reached 125º F and rested for 20 minutes until the temperature stabilized.
Be advised that the tenderloin will continue to rise an additional 10–12º F during the rest—take this into account!
Sauce for beef tenderloin
Traditional French chateaubriand is served with a red wine sauce, but the sauce for this beef tenderloin recipe is a recreation of a creamy green peppercorn sauce I loved from a local steakhouse.
After removing the meat, use the same skillet to saute shallots until soft over medium-high heat while the tenderloin rests.
Don't clean or wipe the skillet! We want the remnants from the beef in the pan.
Next, turn the heat to high.
Add the brandy after 1 minute. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any fond (the delicious caramelized bits of meat stuck to bottom of the skillet).
You want the alcohol flavor to cook off, so let it reduce for 1 minute.
Now, add in finely crushed green peppercorns, beef broth, heavy cream, and Maggi seasoning sauce (this is optional, but boy does it amp up the flavor!).
Reduce heat to a medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes.
Finally, finish the sauce with butter.
Slice the roast into about 1-inch medallions and serve with the sauce.
What side dishes go with roast beef tenderloin?
You can't go wrong with mashed potatoes!
Choose from Perfect Meal-Prep Creamy Mashed Potatoes, Irish Colcannon with Cabbage and Leeks, or Easy Skin-On Mashed Potatoes with Horseradish (because we have a robustly flavored sauce, though, I'd recommend leaving out the horseradish—you'll love the texture of the skin-on potatoes on their own).
You could also make a green vegetable or salad, like Green Beans with Bacon and Onions, Easy Microwave Brussels Sprouts, Meal-Prep House Salad & Homemade Thousand Island Dressing, or Arugula-Shaved-Fennel Salad.
Leftover beef tenderloin recipes
Leftover beef tenderloin is fabulous thinly sliced on sandwiches, as I've done with leftover prime rib in my Open-Faced Prime Rib Sandwiches—or as the featured meat in “Real Deal” Beef Pho Noodle Soup. You could also sear the pieces of meat and add them to my Mushroom Stroganoff.
That's it! This impressive meal comes together very quickly after the dry brining step. It's so easy and delicious. I hope your family loves it!
Want more holiday roast options? Check out my Date Night Prime Rib Roast (scalable to larger crowds!), Herb-Roasted Rack of Pork, Holiday Turkey Roulade with Sausage Stuffing, and Roast Rack of Lamb-Potato Traybake! Or, there's always Ultimate Classic Roast Turkey.
Stay safe. Stay well. And have a wonderful holiday season.
For the beef tenderloin:
- 3 lb. center cut beef tenderloin (see Recipe Note #1)
- 1 tbsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
For the Creamy Green Peppercorn Sauce:
- ¼ cup shallot, minced
- ⅓ cup brandy
- ⅓ cup beef broth
- ⅓ cup water
- 2 tbsp brined green peppercorns, rinsed and finely crushed
- ½ cup heavy cream (see Recipe Note #2)
- ¼ tsp Maggi seasoning sauce (optional)
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- Tie tenderloin every 2–3 inches, and then tie once around the length of the roast.
- Dry meat with paper towels and liberally salt.
- Set on a rack set into a baking sheet; refrigerate for at least 3 hours, but up to 18 hours (see Recipe Note #3)
- Remove roast from refrigerator a half hour to an hour before you plan to start cooking. Dry any accumulated moisture from the tenderloin with paper towels.
- Sprinkle liberally with black pepper. Let the roast sit at room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 400º F.
- Heat a 14-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Add oil. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the roast. Sear 2 minutes each on three sides.
- Turn the fourth side down (see Recipe Note #4), insert a leave-in temperature probe into the thickest part of the roast, and place the skillet in the oven.
- Roast until the leave-in thermometer registers 10–12º F away from your final target temperature (see Recipe Note #5). Remove and rest for at least 20 minutes.
- While the tenderloin rests, make the sauce: Add shallots to the same hot skillet (do not clean or wipe out).
- Turn the heat to high; after 1 minute, add brandy; boil and reduce for 1 additional minute.
- Add crushed green peppercorns, beef broth, heavy cream, and Maggi seasoning sauce (if using). Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the butter; stir until melted into the sauce.
- Slice the tenderloin into medallions; serve with the sauce spooned over the top.
- This is also called the chateaubriand. I recommend buying a whole, untrimmed beef tenderloin. Trim and cut the roast according to the instructions in the post above. This saves money and provides additional, excellent-quality meat for filet mignon steaks, stew, and more.
- Also called double cream or whipping cream.
- Note that if you don't have time for the dry brining step, simply dry your roast thoroughly with paper toweling and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Your roast will still be fabulous.
- There is no need to sear the fourth side of the roast because the screaming-hot skillet will sear the final side as it roasts in the oven.
- The roast will continue to rise in temperature 10–12º F as it rests, depending on the size of your roast. There's no need to cover with foil.