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As the name might suggest, the beef tenderloin is the most tender cut of meat on the cow. Butter-soft, rich, and bursting with flavor, a well-cooked tenderloin can be the perfect choice to bring friends and family together over a truly excellent meal. For many people, it’s the kind of meal that you can really only get in a high-end restaurant.
However, with a little bit of practice, you can cook the perfect beef tenderloin right in your own home. Whether on the grill or in the oven, read on to check out our guide on how and how long to cook 15 lb beef tenderloin in order to get that luxurious feel and flavor of a high-quality piece of meat. We’ve also got suggestions on seasoning, how to check the temperature, and any other little tips and tricks that you may need to make yourself the perfect summertime meal.
4 Ways to Cook Beef Tenderloin
1. In the Oven
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit while your tenderloin heats up to room temperature. While you’re waiting for the oven to be ready, season your meat with whatever herbs and seasonings you prefer.
For a simple, delicious combination of flavors, try brushing the meat with olive oil and rosemary before rubbing in salt, fresh garlic, and cracked black pepper. If you want, you can soak fresh rosemary sprigs in olive oil overnight to create an infused oil.
Put the tenderloin on a roasting pan in the oven and cook until the internal temperature reaches at least 135 degrees Fahrenheit. For a 7 lb beef tenderloin cook time will be around an hour and a half, but for a 4-5 lb cut, you should check the internal temperature after around 35 minutes.
Remove the tenderloin from the oven and let it sit for at least fifteen minutes before slicing it up and enjoying your meal.
2. On the Grill
Heat your grill to medium high (between 375 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit) and let your tenderloin come to room temperature. Rub the meat with a blend of olive oil and herbs—try parsley and thyme, or rosemary and oregano—along with salt and pepper.
Grill the tenderloin uncovered, so that some of the excess heat can escape. If you’re grilling a large piece of meat, it may be better to cut the beef into inch-wide steaks in order to let them cook more quickly.
Cook the steaks for about ten to twelve minutes for a rare piece of meat, or twelve to fifteen minutes for a medium rare steak temp (145 degrees Fahrenheit or around 63 degrees Celsius). If you cut thicker steaks, increase the cook time by a few minutes and wait until the internal temperature has reached 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remove the steaks from the grill, let them cool slightly, and then serve!
3. In a Smoker
As with the previous two options, bring your beef tenderloin to room temperature. With a smoker, you can explore more unique flavor combinations, as the flavor of the smoke itself will significantly impact the tenderloin.
Try rubbing the meat with honey, olive oil, mustard, and garlic along with the more “traditional” beef seasonings—thyme, rosemary, or parsley. Light the charcoal in your smoker and let the internal temperature come to around 300 degrees Fahrenheit (you may want to start heating the smoker up half an hour before you’re ready to cook).
Lay the beef tenderloin across the oiled smoker grate and close the lid. Throughout the cooking process, check to make sure that the smoke and steam levels are holding steady and add more water to the tank as necessary.
It should take between half an hour and an hour and a half for your meat to smoke through, depending on the tenderloin size. Remove the beef from the smoker and let it rest in an aluminum foil tent for about half an hour before serving!
4. In a Skillet
For this last option, you will have to cut up your tenderloin. As a general rule, shoot for thinner steaks (around 3/4 inch to an inch). Heat the skillet to medium high heat and add enough butter or cooking oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
Season your steaks with whatever combination of seasonings you prefer. Again, parsley, rosemary, and thyme are often popular choices, but feel free to add whatever spices you like!
Cook the steaks uncovered, moving them around the pan, for around seven to nine minutes. If you have thicker steaks, it may take slightly longer, but keep tossing the steaks in the oil until they reach the desired temperature.
Once the internal temperature of the steaks has reached at least 135 degrees Fahrenheit, remove the heat and let them cool slightly before enjoying!
How Long Should a Beef Tenderloin Sit Out Before Cooking?
The process for getting a perfectly cooked beef tenderloin starts before you start putting the heat on it! While most of us store our meat in the fridge until it’s ready to go in the oven or on the grill, letting it sit out for a little while can create a juicier, more flavorful finished product.
Especially with thick cuts of meat like the tenderloin, it’s a good idea to let the meat come to room temperature (forty minutes to an hour) before it starts to cook. This raises the core temperature of the meat, which means that the whole cut will cook faster. In turn, this means that there’s less time for the outer edges of the meat to get dry before the whole tenderloin is fully cooked.
In addition, be sure to let your tenderloin cool for at least fifteen minutes after cooking to lock in the flavors!
The Critical Temperature to Cook Beef Tenderloin to Perfection
The temperature of your beef tenderloin is going to vary a little bit based on your personal preferences. If you like your meat well-done, wait for it to reach an internal temperature of around 155 degrees Fahrenheit (around 68 degrees Celsius). If you prefer a rarer cut of meat, on the other hand, try a temperature of around 130 degrees Fahrenheit (around 55 degrees Celsius).
As a general rule, 125-130 degrees Fahrenheit (51 to 55 degrees Celsius) is the absolute lowest safe temperature for any cut of beef. For a more specific beef temperature chart, there are plenty of resources available online to help you find the temperature that works best for you, including calculations for beef tenderloin temperature Celsius, instead of Fahrenheit.
Regardless of your personal preference, so long as you keep your tenderloin between 125 and 155 degrees Fahrenheit, you’re in the perfect zone for the perfect meal!
How to Check Beef Tenderloin Degree of Doneness Easily?
When it comes to checking your tenderloin’s temperature, having the right thermometer can make or break your meal. In general, you need a thermometer that is fast and accurate, although whether you prefer digital or analog thermometers is entirely up to you.
Our personal favorite thermometer is the ThermoPro Instant Read Thermometer. It’s simple, reliable, and gives you an accurate and immediate readout on the internal temperature of your tenderloin or any other meat.
Insert your thermometer into the thickest part of the tenderloin, watching the temperature readout as you do so. You may notice that the tenderloin reads as hotter when you first insert the thermometer. The lowest temperature is the most accurate reading of the tenderloin’s internal temperature, as the meat cooks from the outside in.
Again, wait until the tenderloin temperature consistently reads at least 135 degrees Fahrenheit before removing it from the heat.
No matter what kind of cooking setup you have at your home, you should take every opportunity you get to treat yourself and your loved ones to a delicious, home-cooked meal. Take the time to do all of the research you need before you get cooking, but don’t be afraid to tackle a more “challenging” repast!
Preparedness is key when it comes to cooking the perfect meal. Make sure you have the tools that you need, including a high-quality meat thermometer, a good roasting pan or grilling tools, and heat-proof gloves. As long as you’ve got just a few basic tools in your belt, you should be able to cook any new dish to perfection!
Whether you’re a long-time grill-master or just dipping your toes into the world of culinary explanation, a perfectly cooked beef tenderloin is a deceptively simple meal that will leave you and your loved ones satisfied!