How to Cook a Beef Tenderloin

beef tenderloin

Beef tenderloin is the finest cut of beef available and if you know how to cook a beef tenderloin, you have a very special dinner indeed.

PSMO or Less

When shopping for beef tenderloin, you have a couple of options. You can get it whole, sealed in plastic, and with the Peel and Side Meat On, which is what PSMO (pronounced "Pismo") stands for. Buying your tenderloin in this manner is usually cheaper, but it does mean that you will have to do some work to get it ready for cooking. You could also get ready to cook tenderloin from your butcher. This will be more expensive, but if you are not ready to prepare the loin yourself, this is a viable option.

Getting bulk tenderloin like this means that you will have to remove the side meat, also known as the chain meat, and the silver skin. Silver skin is relatively easy to remove but it does take a bit of practice.

Using a very sharp boning or filet knife, cut away any fat from the outside of the tenderloin. The silver skin will be obvious: it looks silvery and is tight to the meat. Insert the knife just underneath the silver skin and carefully run the knife under the skin to separate it from the meat. Once you have removed all of the silver skin, cut off the side meat and the trim the tapering end so the tenderloin is of equal thickness. Now the tenderloin is ready to be cooked. If you don't want to trim off the tapering end, just fold it over to about the same thickness of the rest of the loin and tie it together.

How to Cook a Beef Tenderloin

beef tenderloin

Beef tenderloin has a delicate flavor and is very tender, so a bit of care is called for when considering how to cook a beef tenderloin. You want to avoid overpowering the flavor and, for the best results, a beef tenderloin should be cooked no more than medium rare. The tenderloin is a part of the cow that does not get very much of a workout, so unlike brisket, which needs a long cooking time, you will be cooking this cut for a rather short amount of time. The best way to make sure that your beef tenderloin cooks evenly is to get it to room temperature before you start to cook. Place the tenderloin on a plate or roasting dish and cover it with plastic wrap. Let it rest outside of the refrigerator for at least half an hour.

If you like, you can tie the tenderloin with butchers twine. This will help to prevent the meat from curling up as it cooks. Take a piece of butchers twine about as long as your arm and tie it around one end of the loin. Then tie another knot around the meat about two inches away from the first knot. Do this down the length of the loin. If you are familiar with the technique, you can do this with one continuous piece of twine, but if not you can just use separate pieces.

Five-pound beef tenderloin will easily feed eight people.


  • 1 beef tenderloin
  • 5 crushed garlic cloves
  • Kosher salt and course ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Vegetable oil to coat the bottom of your pan.


  1. Once the tenderloin has rested and has reached room temperature, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Pat the tenderloin dry.
  3. Tie off the tenderloin.
  4. Place a large, heavy pan over a medium high heat.
  5. Pour enough vegetable oil into the pan to just coat the bottom of the pan.
  6. Place the tenderloin into the hot pan and do not move it.
  7. Let it sear for two minutes each side until a nice brown crust has formed.
  8. Remove the tenderloin from the pan and let it cool to the point that you can handle it.
  9. Rub the loin with the olive oil and garlic, and then rub it liberally with the salt and pepper.
  10. Place the tenderloin in a roasting pan and roast for 45-50 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 120-125 degrees. Start testing for temperature as early as 20 minutes into cooking, as different size cuts and ovens will cook differently.
  11. Remove the tenderloin from the oven and let it rest, loosely covered with foil, for at least ten minutes. The resting allows the juices to move back into the meat. Otherwise, the juices end up on your plate not in the meat.
  12. For fun flavor variations, you can also rub the tenderloin with fresh chopped rosemary or thyme.
  13. You can always marinade the tenderloin if you so desire although I wouldn't marinade it too long, only about an hour, to preserve the delicate flavor.


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How to Cook a Beef Tenderloin