Filet Mignon, translated from French as ‘cute fillet’ or ‘dainty fillet’, is often referred to as tenderloin steak. It has a very mild beef aroma and mild beef flavor when compared to other steaks and needs additional steps to make it more flavorful. Some chefs call filet mignon overrated, but most of us love it. When cooked right it’s very tender, flavorful and tasty.
The best way to cook filet mignon
Filet mignon can be cooked many different ways, but pan-searing it first in some oil and butter, then finishing in the oven is by far one of the best ways to cook it. A friend of mine who works at a local steakhouse shared this method and the recipe with me. I was skeptical at first, but once I tried it I knew I would never cook my filet mignon any other way.
Filet mignon, being a very lean cut, is quite flavorless. To compensate, you must use butter and herbs. You pan-sear the meat with butter and oil over a fairly high heat, to give it a beautiful, intensely flavored crust. Then immediately transfer the pan into a preheated oven to complete the cooking which will result in a buttery-tender, perfectly cooked steak. This is it. This technique is simple and very effective.
Picking and preparing your tenderloin steak
To cook a perfect tenderloin steak you need to start with good meat, I think that goes without saying. Use the highest grade meat you can buy. Butter or not, good marbling will make filet mignon more tender and taste better. Beef tenderloin is a very tender cut, but you can tenderize it even further. This is not a required step, but I always do it and swear by it, and so does Meathead Goldwyn. About two hours and up to three days in advance, liberally salt both sides of each steak and put back in the fridge. Let the salt melt and be pulled back into the meat. Salt tenderizes and amps up the flavor.
Flavorize your steak
Another trick the pros have for making a perfect filet mignon is to serve it with a pan sauce, Bearnaise sauce or herb butter. The sauces take additional time and effort to prepare but that can be totally worth it. If you are like me and want things to be super simple, make some herb butter which takes about 5 minutes.
My favorite combination to complement tenderloin steak is fresh garlic, rosemary, parsley and oregano. These herbs add complexity and a balanced flavor to the steak.
Don’t overcook you steak
So, what are the pros doing and what will you get at your local restaurant? Below is the table of temps that summarizes that very nicely. It’s based on a fairly unanimous opinion of my friend and such respected sources as AmazingRibs.com, CertifiedAngusBeef.com and other.
|Steak Doneness||Remove from Oven at this Temp||Final Cooked Temp|
To ensure even cooking, flip the steaks right before putting them into the oven, and then again halfway during oven baking. This will also help the steaks cook faster. Oven and pan heat is unidirectional, resulting in bottom side cooking faster then the top one. Flipping helps even things out.
How to tell when the steak is ready?
There are several ways to tell when the steak reached the desired doneness. I use the one and only method that works best for me – a BBQ thermometer. This little gadget makes things so simple and fool-proof that I use it practically daily, both for grilling and for oven cooking.
- 4 filet mignon steaks (tenderloin steaks should be 2-inch thick)
- 2 Tbsp good quality olive oil
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- Kosher salt (to taste)
- Black pepper (coarsely ground, to taste)
For the compound butter:
- 8 Tbsp butter (1 stick, unsalted)
- 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary (finely chopped)
- 1/2 Tbsp fresh parsley (finely chopped)
- 1/2 Tbsp fresh oregano (finely chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (blanched for 1 minute in hot water, then minced or pressed)
- Preheat oven to 410F.
- To make the compound butter, take the butter out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature while preparing herbs and garlic. In the meantime, rinse rosemary, parsley and oregano, chop and set aside. Blanche garlic, if needed, by bringing 1 cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan, taking the water off the heat and letting the garlic blanch in hot water for 1 minute, then cooling in cold water. If the butter is too hard, microwave for 10 seconds or pound by a pasta roller.
- Add the chopped herbs and minced garlic, and mix in until evenly distributed. Shape into a log and refrigerate until ready to use. Remove the butter from the fridge 10 minutes prior to using.
- Remove filet mignon steaks from the fridge about 45-60 minutes before cooking and let come up to room temperature. Liberally season with salt and pepper on both sides just before searing. See Note.
- Heat the olive oil and the butter in a large (12") cast iron pan over medium-high heat. When the butter starts smoking and turns dark brown in color, place the filets in the pan and sear undisturbed for about 2 minutes. Flip and sear for another 2 minutes. Flip the steaks again and immediately transfer the pan into the preheated oven.
- Bake to desired doneness: rare - 120F-125F, medium rare - 130F-135F, medium - 140F-145F, medium well - 150F-155F and well done - 160F-165F.
- Remove the filets from the skillet and place on a platter. Cover with foil and let the steaks rest for 3 minutes. Top with a slice of compound butter and serve immediately.
This post was updated on November 7, 2018
Excellent! Just tried for the first time. Easy to follow instructions. I had chive butter pats in the freezer and they were great on the steak.
Happy to hear it, Lesley. Enjoy!
I’m making this for Christmas Eve but I bought filet mignon roasts instead of individual steaks. Would it still work for that?
Apologies for the late response. It’s too late but may help someone in the future. Yes, it will work. I actually like buying roasts as they are cheaper and cutting them into 2″ steaks. You may need to remove some silver skin but that’s not a hard task if you have a reasonably sharp knife.
This was the best recipe for filet I have ever tried. Seasoning an hour prior to cooking made the biggest difference! I do that with other steaks, but never with filet Mignon.
Great recipe, the steaks came out perfect and tons of flavor.
785 calories. is that for 1 pound steak? I do the math on other sites and I get 350 calories for a 6 oz serving
The program does not specify but I see it assigns 450 calories per steak. The rest of the calories come from frying oil and herb butter, etc. Obviously, it will be less as much of the frying oil will be left behind, etc.
I think mine are overcooked. Do you have a suggestion for temp on a roaster type oven. Cooked at 400 8 min for Med rare ended up with medium well and 145 internal temp
Hi Dee, honestly, I don’t think I could tell you even if I did have a roaster-type oven as they can cook very differently from one to another. In my kitchen, I’ve grown to love the convenience and precision of a BBQ thermometer. I just stick the probe in, set the target temp, and wait until it beeps. I know how my oven bakes so I could do it without a thermometer but even still, sometimes I would get slightly less or slightly more cooked meat… depends on how big and thick the pieces are… but with a BBQ thermometer its never a problem. It eliminates all the stress and the possibility of overcooking and lets me focus on other things like side dishes, sauces, etc.
I’m cooking Fillet mignon for Christmas lunch for 10 people. Will this method work for 5 steaks at a time?
Paula, yes this will work for 5 steaks. I’ve cooked 6 and 8 at a time. For 8 I use my monster 15″ Lodge cast iron pan.
These were delicious and so easy. Thanks so much. Perfection.
Victor this was the best filet if ever eaten. Thank you. I will never grill then again. Question, I am planning on rib eye tomorrow and wondered would this same method produce an amusing rib eye?.
You are very welcome, Nita. I use the same process for ribeye. Be careful while searing ribeye inside, it’s fattier so there will be smoke. Best if you do it outside then bring back and finish in the oven.
I will never make filet another way again. So delicious, thank you 🙂
You are very welcome.
Hi! What quantity of fresh herbs do you use- parsley and oregano? Thanks!
Hi, it’s about 1/2 Tbsp each. Updated the recipe.
How do you know how long to put them in the oven? Looking for a medium cook.
Justine, the best way is to use a BBQ thermometer, I discussed that in the post. A perfectly cooked steak every time! An instant-read thermometer is the second-best option. Start checking after 8-10 minutes just to be safe. Giving you a specific time is impossible as there are so many factors at play. However, having cooked so many steaks this way, it’s always been around 11-13 minutes in the oven to get medium-rare to medium, for both filet mignon and other types of steak. I recall my smaller and thinner steaks would be medium at 13 minutes, while thicker would be medium-rare, to satisfy different tastes in the family. I would guess a good size filet mignon would need closer to 13-15 minutes to get to medium. But, this is just a guideline. Start checking earlier. If you don’t have a thermometer, sacrifice one steak, make a cut in it and check for doneness and go from there.
Turned out perfectly and my husband loved it!
Can you substitute salted butter ?
Salted butter should work just fine too in this recipe.
I’ve heard of salted butter, but never salter butter. What is that victor? Google is as clueless as I am.
Salted. Typo obviously.
Trying the filet recipe later today. Quick question….How log does the compound butter mixture keep when refrigerated?
It will keep for a few days. Fresh herbs will begin to go bad well before butter so the compound butter will keep for as along as herbs will. If the herbs were fresh and dried well before mixing ins with butter, I’d say 4-5 days. Otherwise 2-3 days. You can also use dried herbs, that will extend life to a couple of weeks I’d say.
Question- for the compound butter, when is that added, just at the end after taking out of oven? Or wasn’t too clear on that? Ty
You can experiment and see how you like it better. If you add at the end of baking it will melt more. If you add a bit later it will be more solid. I like adding mine just as I am taking the steaks out of the oven.
Absolutely love this recipe! I actually put some bacon around the steaks and secured with toothpick. They were wonderful!
Just made these steaks for Easter Dinner! Wonderful flavor and easy to do. We had to adjust the time in the oven a bit as our steaks were only about 1.25 inches thick, but used a meat thermometer and they were perfect! Thank you!
Easy recipe to follow and turned out to be the best filet I’ve ever made.
I am so happy to hear that, Karen, glad I could help. Thank for leaving your feedback.
Silly question, but could you share roughly how long the steaks should be in the oven for each level of doneness? I’m notorious for overcooking my steaks. I’m going to get a thermometer, but a guide would be helpful (and I’m sure appreciated by my family, lol).
Thanks, and I can’t wait to try this method!
Not a silly question at all, this is the hardest part of cooking a steak for anyone. Achieving perfect steak doneness can be art or science. I guess I am a bad artist as I could never get a perfectly cooked steak on a consistent basis by eyeing it, timing it, or giving it a finger test. Now I use a BBQ thermometer exclusively to eliminate any guesswork and frequent checking.
There are some many variables here – steak starting temperature, steak thickness and size, searing temperature, exact oven temperature, how quickly your oven recovers after adding steaks in, and so on. All those variables make it impossible to accurately predict doneness based on time alone.
That said, and I am going solely based on memory here, 8-10 minutes should give you about medium rare, 10-12 – medium, 13-15 – medium well. Before I go the thermometer, I would cut one steak in half after 10 minutes and see how it looks. Usually it would be on the rare side and I would cook it for another 2 minutes. Hope this helps.
This is my go to recipe for steaks. I won’t do them any other way and every birthday and Valentine’s day my husband thoroughly enjoys these. My daughter loves to make the butter and we put them in cute little heart shaped molds. She likes to eat the butter straight! Thanks so much!
You are very welcome, glad you enjoyed my filet mignon recipe. Thank you for the feedback. Loved the part of about the heart-shaped butter, it’s such as creative idea.
Im planning to make it tomorrow.. i will also post photo on o pinterest but isnt the salt makes the steak tough ? They generally say not to seasoned before 10-15 mins u cook
Alessandra, it’s quite the opposite, salt tenderizes meat. There many authoritative sources that wrote on that. You want to season your steak with salt and pepper 2-3 days before cooking for best results. I’ve used this method many times and the results are impressive.
Loved every bite of these delicious steaks!
Glad to hear that.
Delicious n just like pic!
Fantastic! Great to hear.
I am following your advice. I bought 2 gorgeous filets at this famous Soho butcher shop called Pino. Only cash, prime meat and 3 customers is the maximum they can got in the store at one time! The steaks are salt and peppered and uncovered in the fridge! I’ll report back and Happy New Year!!
Oh, that sounds delicious. You can’t go wrong with prime. Can’t wait to hear how they turn out. Happy New Year to you too!!!
Hi. Maybe a silly question but do you cover the steakss in the fridge if you season them 2-3 days before with salt and pepper? I’ve seen some roast chicken recipes where it says to leave it in the fridge uncovered. Thanks for helping! 🙂 I’m going to make them for New Years Eve!
Actually, it’s a very good question. You must not cover steaks. They need air circulation and the surface needs to be dry when they go on the pan.
I tried this recipe out last night and I was pleasantly surprised at how well the steak turned out and how much more flavorful it was compared to my previous cooks. I never thought of adding butter so this was the first time and I am glad I did following your advice. Great steak. Thanks for sharing your recipe.
If you like steak rare, do you need to put it in the oven?
You don’t need to, it’s just easier in the oven. Finishing in an oven helps achieve a more even cooking. If you want to cook in the pan until the desired doneness is achieved, just keep flipping it every 20-30 seconds. This will prevent sides from getting overcooked.
I am not kidding, this has to be one of the best steaks I’ve ever had. Moist, flavorful, and very tender. I will be making this again for sure.
Thanks for the feedback, Lenny. Glad to hear it.
Amazing. I followed the advice as per buying the best cut of meat possible. The steaks came out amazing, and my wife and kids loved them. Can’t really see myself ordering this out in a restaurant anymore.
Cool! Great to hear that. I hope you liked the compound butter – it’s amazing how much flavor it adds. I stopped going out for steaks a long time ago, only do it every now and again on special occasions. Homemade is so much better, and cheaper…
This is my first time making filet mignon and it turned out quite good. I followed your recipe to the tee and it worked out just fine.
Loved them so much I’m making them a second time in 10 days!!
Made this today and loved the results. My family was very impressed.
The herb butter is fantastic. Makes the flavorless filet mignon meat really shine. great recipe.
My philosophy is that steaks belong on the grill, but gave your recipe the benefit of the doubt and followed it to the tee. I am so glad I did because the steaks turned out terrific. I will be making more of these.
LOL – glad to hear that, Michael.
Glad to hear your like it. Thank you for your feedback.
Delicious! The best steak I have ever cooked at home. The entire family was raving mad about how amazing it was. Thank you for a fabulous recipe!