Filet Mignon is the most tender, juicy, and flavorful steak that is perfect to cook for any special occasion. Learn how to how to cook the best filet mignon steaks right here. Whether you cut your own steaks or get the butcher to cut it, you will be able to cook it yourself with just a few easy steps.
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What Is Filet Mignon?
I am a huge fan of beef tenderloin and there is no surprise why. It’s the most tender cut of beef you can get. Filet mignon is a prime steak cut that comes from the beef tenderloin. Tenderloin is a long, thin muscle that runs deep inside, along the back, right under the spine. This muscle is not weight bearing, doesn’t get worked out much, and doesn’t have much connective tissue, which is what makes it so tender.
Filet Mignon literally means “dainty filet” or “petite filet.” Filet is a culinary term that means “boneless” and mignon means “small or dainty.” Traditionally, filet mignon came from the narrower end of the tenderloin muscle before it tapers off to the end. Over time though, most of the steaks cut from the center of this muscle came to be known as “filet mignon.”
This tender, petit steak is still the best one to share during a special dinner and is very easy to make yourself. Why go out to a fancy restaurant and over-pay for two small steaks when you can impress your date with your culinary skills and serve filet mignon at home?
TIP: I highly recommend that you get a whole tenderloin and cut the steaks yourself. Whole tenderloin is very versatile and you can use the “scraps” in many other recipes. It will be much cheaper to cut it yourself too!
Ingredients and Tools Needed
Filet Mignon – when choosing steaks at the store, make sure you get filet mignon (or beef tenderloin steaks) that are between 1 1/2 and 2 inches in thickness. Make sure to choose steaks that are as close to the same thickness as possible. If the steaks you see are different thickness, remember you CAN ask the butcher to cut you new steaks the same size. You are paying a lot of money for these steaks, if okay to ask for exactly what you need.
Seasoning – with a good steak like the beef tenderloin, all you need is some salt and pepper and then finish it with butter once it’s cooked.
Oil – use neutral oil with a high burn point like avocado oil, vegetable oil, or canola oil.
Meat thermometer – when cooking steaks, this is the most important tool! This is the best way to tell if your steaks are done the way you want it. When cooking steaks in the oven, it’s best to use a leave-in meat thermometer but you can always take the steak out of the oven to test the temperature.
Kitchen twine – make sure to use kitchen twine (also known as a butcher twine) to tie your steaks. It is food grade twine, which means it is save to use on foods.
PRO TIP: DON’T get beef tenderloin steaks (filet mignon) that are less than 1 1/2 inches or it will cook too fast and you are very likely to over-cook it. The best thickness for a filet mignon is 1 1/2 or 2 inches.
How To Cook Filet Mignon
Best known way to cook filet mignon and many other steaks like ribeye, NY strip, and sirloin is by using the steakhouse style. (Unless you’re using a grill, but that is a whole other story.) Steakhouse Style has two steps: first you start by searing steaks on the stove-top at high heat and then move the skillet into the preheated oven to finish cooking. So let’s cook!
Let it rest:
Pull the steaks out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking, take them out of the package, and let them rest on the cutting board to get to room temperature.
Now is a good time to preheat the oven to 425° so it’s ready to go when the steaks are seared.
Tie it: Tie a piece of kitchen twine around each filet mignon steak. Tie it firm but not too tight where it starts to cut into meat. Trim off long sting ends (1).
PRO TIP: Don’t skip the tying step! The reason to tie the steaks is to make it uniform in size and hold its shape while cooking. A more uniform size will help cook the steaks evenly.
Season it: Pat the steaks dry with a paper towel and season it with salt and pepper on all the sides (1), don’t forget to season it around the edge side as well. (Make sure to season the steaks right before placing them into the hot skillet. Salt draws out moisture from food so if you salt too early, too much moisture be on the skin and it will hinder the beautiful sear.)
Pat it dry: Right before placing the steaks into the preheated skillet, use a paper towel to gently pat each steak dry again (2).
Sear it: Preheat a cast iron skillet (or another oven-safe cooking pan) over medium-high heat and add some cooking oil. Place steaks into the hot skillet and let them sear for about a minute and a half on one side (3). Flip and let them sear for about a minute on that side (4).
PRO TIP: I do not recommend to sear on butter because butter burns. You can always finish the steak with some butter on top for the flavor. I recommend cooking on avocado, canola, or vegetable oil.
Finish steaks in the oven: Transfer the skillet into the oven and cook until your desired temperature. If you use a leave-in thermometer (5), you can easily track the temperature as steak cooks in the oven. (To use a leave-in meat thermometer, insert it through the side of the largest steak to monitor the temperature (5).)
If not using a leave-in thermometer, let them cook for 6-9 minutes before checking the temperature. The exact time that it will take to cook the steaks will highly depend on the size of the steaks.
The best temperatures to cook filet mignon to is medium-rare or medium. For medium-rare, cook it to 135°-140° (6). For medium, cook to 140°-145° and for rare, cook it to 125°-130°.
Let it rest: DON’T forget to let the cooked steaks rest for about 5 minutes! Take cooked steaks out of the skillet so they don’t keep cooking and place them on a cutting board. Cut the string off and let them rest before serving.
PRO TIP: If you want to top the steaks off with butter, the good time to do it is while they are resting. So place the steaks to rest on a platter to catch the juices.
Steak Temperature Guide
Unfortunately, you can’t set exact time on a timer when it comes to cooking steaks. Every steak is different, has a different amount of fat, and varies in size, shape, and thickness. For these reasons, steaks can take a different amount of time to cook. Taking the temperature of the steak is the most reliable way to know when it’s cooked the way you like it.
To take the temperate, lift the steak out of the skillet with a pair of tongs and insert the probe into the thickest part, through the side, towards the middle. This makes reaching the center easier and ensures that the reading doesn’t include the heat from the pan as well.
Although medium-rare is most often recommended temperature for filet mignon, you can use this guide to make sure it’s cooked exactly how you like.
125°-130° = Rare
135°-140° = Medium-rare
145°-150° = Medium
150°-155° = Medium-well
160°-165° = Well
(*First number is when to take it out of the oven.)
I get this question ALL the time. It’s not a common practice but many chefs do believe in tying these steaks in the middle. The reason to tie the steaks is the same as when cooking a whole beef tenderloin roast, to make it uniform in size and hold its shape while cooking. A more uniform size will help cook the steaks evenly.
USDA Prime – this is the highest quality. Comes from young, well-fed cattle and has a lot of intramuscular marbling. It is not as widely available as choice quality so if you see it, I highly recommend you get it.
USDA Choice – high quality and much more widely available. These cut will have less fat content and less marbling than prime but still a good choice.
USDA Select – these are lower quality steaks and therefore much cheaper. There is less marbling so it is leaner, tougher, and less juicy
Filet mignon is a steak that is most often served on its own because of the decadent steak flavor and the quality of this cut of meat. But you can always top if off with some delicious steak sauces. There are several options like red wine steak sauce, a delicious creamy steak sauce, and our favorite peppercorn sauce. All are super fast and simple to cook right in the skillet after you take out the steaks
Good Sides To Serve With Steak
More Steak Recipes To Try
If you’ve cooked steaks in the oven using my recipe and found a lot of good information here, PLEASE leave a 🌟 star rating! Let me know how you liked it by leaving the 📝 comment below as well.
How To Cook Filet Mignon
- 1 lb filet mignon steaks more or less depending on how many people
- 1-2 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
- fresh cracked black pepper
- 1-2 tbsp salted butter to top off the cooked steaks optional
Rest before cooking:
- Pull the steaks out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.
- Take them out of the package, and let them rest to get to room temperature on the cutting board.
- Now is a good time to preheat the oven to 425°.
Pat the steaks dry:
- Use a paper towel to pat each steak dry.
Tie the steaks:
- Tie a string of cooking twine around each filet mignon steak. Tie it firm but not too tight where it starts to cut into meat. Trim off long sting ends.
Season the steaks:
- TIP: Make sure to season the steaks right before placing them into the hot skillet. Salt draws out moisture from food so if you salt too early, exterior of the steak will be wet and it will hinder the beautiful sear.
- Start preheating a cast iron skillet (or another oven-safe cooking pan) over medium-high heat and add some cooking oil.
- Season steaks with salt and pepper on all the sides, don’t forget to season around the edge side as well.
Sear the steaks:
- Place steaks into the hot skillet and let them sear for about a minute and a half on each side.
Finish cooking in the oven:
- Transfer the skillet into the oven and cook for 7-10 minutes before checking the temperature. Exact time that it will take to cook the steaks will highly depend on the size of the steaks. (If you have a leave in meat thermometer, insert it through the side of the largest steak to monitor the temperature.)
- To check the temperature, insert meat thermometer through the side of the steak, towards the center.
- The best temperatures to cook filet mignon to is medium-rare or medium. For medium-rare, cook it to 130°-135°. For medium, cook to 135°-140° and for rare, cook it to 120°-125°.
Let it rest:
- Take cooked steaks out of the skillet so they don’t keep cooking and place on a cutting board. Cut the strings off and let them rest for about 5 minutes before cutting.
- Optional: top each hot steak with a thin slice of butter for additional butter flavor and let it melt over the steaks.
- When choosing steaks at the store, make sure you get filet mignon (or beef tenderloin steaks) that are between 1 1/2 and 2 inches in thickness. Make sure to choose steaks that are as close to the same thickness as possible. If the steaks you see are different thickness, remember you CAN ask the butcher to cut you new steaks the same size. You are paying a lot of money for these steaks, if okay to ask for exactly what you need.
- Don’t skip the tying step! The reason to tie the steaks is to make it uniform in size and hold its shape while cooking. A more uniform size will help cook the steaks evenly.
- Remember to REST the steak for 5-10 minutes after cooking and cut off the twine first!
Originally published on Will Cook For Smiles in January 2020.