When you are in the mood for a nice steak, it is easy to get overwhelmed by all the options. Of course you want the best possible steak, but it is tricky to figure out which one is actually suitable for your needs. To avoid making the wrong choice, it is necessary to learn a little about the types of steak.
Filet mignon and ribeye are two of the most classic steak options. They both have a reputation for being luxurious and delicious, but they are two very different types of beef. If you have ever wondered what the difference between these two cuts of beef is, keep reading to find out all about filet mignon vs ribeye.
Table of Contents
- 1 Where Does Filet Mignon Come From?
- 2 What Is the Technical Definition of Ribeye?
- 3 Filet Mignon Vs Ribeye: What's the Difference?
- 4 Which Cut is Easier to Grill?
- 5 Final Thoughts
Where Does Filet Mignon Come From?
Filet mignon is a French term that basically means "dainty fillet". It gets its name from its size and area of origin. The filet mignon actually originates from the tenderloin. This is a long, slender conical shape that stretches from the ribs to the sirloin. Since the muscle of the tenderloin is rarely used, it is extremely tender and does not have a lot of connective tissue.
The smallest part of the tenderloin can be cut into small fillets, and these fillets become the filet mignon. In the average cow, there is only enough meat to create 10 to 12 fillet mignons.
What Is the Technical Definition of Ribeye?
The ribeye steak's name comes from the distinctive swirl of meat and fat that sometimes shows up inside the steak. Depending on the cut of the beef, it may have a bone or no bone. As the name implies, it is cut from the rib section of the beef. The rib eye steak comes from the same area as the prime rib roast, but it is sliced into a steak size instead of being cooked as a full roast.
Depending on which portion of the rib section is sliced for any particular steak, the ribeye may contain complexus, spinalis, or longissimus dorsi muscles. This means that the steak tends to be a blend of tender and finely marbled meat with a few swirls of connective tissue.
Filet Mignon Vs Ribeye: What's the Difference?
As you can see, the main difference between ribeye and filet mignon is that they come from different locations and are made up of different types of muscles. This difference in composition causes the two types of steak to be quite unalike. To find out more about how these two cuts of steak are different from each other, we are going to examine a few key characteristics of each steak.
Ribeye vs Filet Mignon Differences Comparison Table
Cut from the rib section of the beef, same area as the prime rib roast
Cut from the tenderloin, stretches from the ribs to the sirloin
Difference in Appearance
When looking at the typical filet mignon and ribeye steak, the first difference you will notice is size. A filet mignon is typically far smaller than a ribeye. There can be some variation in cuts, but the typical filet mignon is somewhere between one half to one quarter of the size of a rib eye steak.
Examining the two cuts further displays more differences in appearance. A filet mignon is mostly fine grained muscle, with a small amount of fat running through it in thin streaks. In contrast, the ribeye is heavily marbled. You can see white specks of fat throughout the meat, and there will be a few thick strips of fat around the edge amd middle of the steak.
Due to being part of two separate muscles, the texture of ribeye and filet mignon is quite different. The tenderloin muscle is rarely used, so the filet mignon is extremely soft. Many people describe it as having a texture that melts in their mouth. Since there is little connective tissue or fat, there are no tough bits to chew through.
In contrast, ribeye is a little tougher than filet mignon. However, the high fat content marbled through creates a very tender, juicy cut of beef too. The ribeye might not be quite as soft as the filet mignon, but it is still significantly more tender than other cuts of beef.
Filet mignon has a far less pronounced taste than ribeye. This is not necessarily a bad thing because many people who do not like a hearty beef flavor appreciate the more delicate taste of filet mignon. Since it is lower in fat, this cut of beef also has a less greasy taste than ribeye.
Ribeye steak tends to be the flavor people think of when they picture a large, hearty steak. Since the muscle of the steak is exercised more, it develops far more taste. Ribeye has a rich, pronounced steak flavor that is strong enough to overpower anything else in a dish.
Those who want the most luxurious type of steak possible tend to go with filet mignon partially for the price. Since such a small amount of each cow is made from filet mignon, it typically costs more than almost any other cut of steak. In contrast, ribeye is far cheaper. It is not the cheapest cut of beef, but it is typically more affordable than filet mignon.
The culinary uses for ribeye and filet mignon are a little different. Filet mignon is a small cut that cooks quickly in a pan. Since filet mignon has such a delicate flavor it is best served on its own with some sort of accompanying sauce. It is often cooked wrapped in bacon, coated with a mushroom and red wine sauce, or served alongside a peppercorn cream sauce. When cooked at too high of a temperature, filet mignon may lose the tenderness that makes it so popular. In general, it should never be used for anything that requires it to be cooked above medium rare.
Ribeye's high fat content means that it can be cooked at higher temperatures. Since ribeye steaks are so large, they may need to be finished in an oven or on a low grill following a sear. Ribeye steaks are often served on their own without any accompanying sauces because the flavor is rich enough to be a standalone dish. The hearty flavor also means that ribeye can stand up to other flavors. It is a favorite choice for tacos, steak sandwiches, and other steak dishes.
Which Cut is Easier to Grill?
When it comes to grilling, each cut should be handled differently. Because the ribeye cut has much more fat than filet mignon, the fat will melt and the cut will be exposed to the searing heat. The melted fat will also cause flare-ups to the grill, than can char the exterior.
Even though ribeye requires more attention on the grill, that doesn't mean that you should avoid grilling it. Some experts recommend to not touch the steak once it lays down on the grates. If you are a beginner, feel free to ignore that tip and be ready to shift it when necessary, especially during flare-ups. Usually, you should check your ribeye steak every 30 seconds after the 2 minutes mark.
As for filet mignon, it is typically a lean cut but most of the people wrap it in bacon or other fatty cured meats. If that's the case, you should watch it just like the ribeye, because the risk of flare-ups from melted fat are high.
If you want to cook a plain filet mignon, you should stick to the rule of not touching it once you put it on the grates. This cut is cooked quickly over a very high heat and because it is so lean, there should be only a low risk of flare-ups or charring. Just get your grill at a temperature that can create the brown exterior, usually at about 500 degrees, sear the meat and then remove it. That's all you need in most cases to grill a lean filet mignon.
Filet Mignon & Ribeye Cooking Videos
So, Filet Mignon and Ribeye are both a very common steak option when it comes to picking one for dinner.
Even though they are very different in shape, texture and cost, both taste delicious and turn out very tender and juicy if cooked properly.
Both these types of steaks go very well with some grilled sweet potatoes, light broccoli salad and some Cabernet Sauvignon.