Filet mignon is a special cut of steak, thanks to its melt-in-mouth texture and extreme tenderness.
Even though it is a very versatile cut and you can cook it using your grill, skillet or oven broiler, you will get the best results when using high temperature cooking, preferably using a grill.
But, can you really learn how to grill filet mignon perfectly at home? Ordering it on a steakhouse may seem easy but when cooking this cut at home, you need to have several things in mind to not ruin it and to get the maximum flavor.
We have prepared a step-by-step article, explaining everything you need to know to learn how to cook filet mignon at home, including selecting, preparing, grilling and then serving.
Table of Contents
- 1 Filet Mignon Steak Label
- 2 What is Filet Mignon?
- 3 How to Select and Buy Filet Mignon
- 4 How to Prepare & Season the Cut for Grilling
- 5 Grilling Filet Mignon
- 6 How Long to Grill Filet Mignon?
- 7 Serving
- 8 Filet Mignon Cooking Tips
- 9 FAQs
Filet Mignon Steak Label
Note: This is a quick summary of some of the important points you need to know about this steak cut. For detailed answers, you can keep reading the full article below this section.
Recommended Cooking Methods
Also Known as: Filet Mignon, Beef Loin, Tenderloin Steak, Filet De Boeuf, Fillet Steak, Medallions, Short Tenderloin, Tenderloin Medallion
Cut from the Tenderloin area of the animal, the least exercised area, with the most tender cuts.
It is located in the Loin Beef Primal, between the Ribs Primal and Round Primal.
These steaks are known for being very tender, lean and have a buttery texture.
Must-Read Cooking Notes
This cut is very lean, due to its location being the least exercised area of the animal. As a result, it is recommended to be cooked using a Broiler or Grill, using both direct and indirect heat methods.
As for doneness, you will get the best results when is cooked Rare or Medium-Rare, for maximum flavor and tenderness.
What is Filet Mignon?
The term 'Filet Mignon' comes from French and means 'dainty fillet'. The name is originated from the size and location of the cut.
This steak is a very lean cut of the tenderloin, and is probably one of the most tender steaks in the animal.
It usually measures up to 2 inches in thickness and is often used on special occasions due to its expensive price.
Where is Filet Mignon Located?
If you consider the whole animal in 8 Main Areas, or as known as 8 Main Beef Primals, categorized by the USDA, the Filet Mignon is located in the Loin Primal, found between the sirloin and the ribs of the cow.
The exact location is the tenderloin, which is a long and slender conical shape muscle, streched from the ribs to the sirloin.
This area doesn't get a lot of movement from the animal, resulting in less connectivity issues and extremely lean texture.
As a result, the steaks from this area, including Filet Mignon are high in marbling and some of the most tender cuts of the animal.
The Filet Mignon is one of the smallest parts of the tenderloin and the average cow's tenderloin can be sliced in up to 12 filet mignons.
- Also Read: Full Filet Mignon vs Ribeye Comparison
Why You Should Choose Filet Mignon
Probably, the main reason why most people choose the Filet Mignon is due to its extreme tenderness and melt-in-mouth texture.
Also, another reason why most people prefer this cut is its versatility and simplicity to cook.
You can choose to cook it using your grill, skillet or oven broiler, making it a good option for everyone.
Also, thanks to its great marbling and tenderness, you don't need to do anything special to get amazing results with this cut. Just follow the cooking and temperature instructions, and you will end up with a delicious steak without much effort.
How to Select and Buy Filet Mignon
When it comes to Beef, Quality does matter. Here's how to pick and select the best filet mignon for grilling.
Filet Mignon Marbling and Beef Grades
In US, the beef comes as USDA Select, Choice & Prime.
The USDA Prime quality is actually the best and the most expensive one. This is what most fine dining restaurants use and is only 2% of the total beef sold ont the market.
The lower quality grade, the USDA Select is the cheapest one but the beef doesn't have a lot of marbling and it is not worth the effort.
My go-to beef grade is always the USDA Choice. It is the middle option and you will get the best quality-to-price ratio. Actually, half of the total beef sold in USA is Choice Grade.
For the whole beef tenderloin, I usually pay around $10-$15 per pound for the Choice grade.
If you pick the whole tenderloin, you need to slice and prepare it into a small Filet Mignon by yourself. You can read more on how to prepare it in the next section.
How to Buy the Best Cut
As for selecting the best Filet mignon cut on the market, without you needing to do some preparing and cutting at home, here are a few tips to have in mind:
How to Prepare & Season the Cut for Grilling
If you decide to make grilled filet mignon, then you don't need to do much preparing, especially if you buy it already cut and trimmed.
But, if you pick the whole beef tenderloin, then you need to slice it into smaller pieces. The beef tenderloin is oblong in shape and tapered at one end. If it is already trimmed of silverskin, then you are good to begin cutting it into smaller fillets, around 1 1/2 - 2 inch thick.
If the silverskin and extended fat around the cut is not trimmed, then you can remove it as it will make the steak tougher to chew when cooked.
Also, if you have picked a frozen steak, the best way to thaw it is by leaving it in the refrigerator for around 24 hours.
You can even choose to grill a frozen steak but you will not get the best results this way.
If you want to read more about other thawing methods, you can read our previous steak thawing guide.
Seasoning Filet Mignon for Grilling
Filet mignon steaks are very lean and have little fat, meaning that they are very tender but need to be seasoned before grilling.
I prefer to go for a simple Fleur De Sel Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Tellicherry Black Peppercorn seasoning. You can brush them with olive oil before grilling or you can go for a little extra flavor and use bacon fat to give them the extra smokiness and great searing marks. Using olive oil or bacon fat to coat the meat also prevents it from sticking to the grill surface later.
After you have prepared the meat, now it is time to start the grilling process and prepare your grill.
Preparing the Grill
It doesn't matter if you are using gas, charcoal or pellet grill, you still need to allow your grill to preheat before cooking your steaks.
For a gas grill, preheating will take 15-20 minutes while on a charcoal model, wait for the coals to ash over.
Also, for the best results, you need to create a direct and indirect side on your grill. For propane models, you can simply adjust the burners while for charcoal models, you need to move the coals to one side.
Which Type of Grill Is Best?
It really depends on your personal preference and what model you feel more comfortable using.
The charcoal models will give you a more smoky, BBQ flavor that many people prefer while a gas grill resembles more a 'closed' smoky flavor, more like a smokiness of bacon.
Since using bacon fat actually enhances the flavor of the filet mignon, then a lot of people may prefer to use a gas grill to grill this type of steak.
However, I think that any model will work great as long as you follow the instructions and recommended temperatures.
Grilling Filet Mignon
Before putting the steaks on the grill, allow them to come close to room temperature.
Also, you need to first use a direct grilling approach to cook the outside of the meat and then use indirect heat grilling method to continue cooking the inside area. This way, you will end up with a brown and crispy outside, just like you would get from pan searing, and a soft and tender inside.
How Long to Grill Filet Mignon?
Having a high heat side (or direct grilling) and a low heat side (indirect grilling) will allow you to quickly perform a sear on the meat before transferring it to the indirect grilling.
On the high heat side, you should grill them at 450-500°F for around 2-4 minutes per side, in total 6-8 minutes. This will give the steak the crispy crust and some nice grill marks.
Then, you should transfer them to the low-medium heat side for the indirect heat grilling. Grilling them on lower heat will allow the heat to penetrate the middle of the steak without overcooking the outside. Cook them on this side for an additional 4-6 minutes or until you reach your desired doneness level. For the best results, picking an instant read meat thermometer is always recommended.
Also, down below you can find a data table with time needed and cooking temperatures to have a better understanding how long it will take to grill filet mignon, based on the thickness and your cooking style.
Data Table with Detailed Times & Temperature
Direct Grilling Time & Temperatures for Steak Thickness
Notes: Direct Grilling involves grilling filet mignon covered, using Medium Heat. Turn it once during the cooking, depending on your cut thickness and preferred doneness. After you finish cooking it, transfer the meat to a platter and cover with foil, allowing it to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Here are some detailed timing and temperature levels for direct grilling filet mignon:
Recommended Internal Temp
1 1/2-inch Cut
1 1/2-inch Cut
Indirect Grilling Time & Temperatures for Steak Thickness
Notes: Prepare the grill for indirect heat using a drip pan or your preferred method. Grill the steak covered, using Indirect Medium-Heat for the time determined by steak thickness and desired doneness. After you finish cooking it, allow the meat to rest for 5 minutes on a foil-covered platter before serving. When indirect grilling, you don't need to turn the meat in the other side because the air circulates around like in oven.
Here's a table with detailed time needed and recommended temperatures for indirect grilling filet mignon:
Recommended Internal Temp
1 1/2-inch Cut
1 1/2-inch Cut
Grilled Filet Mignon Doneness Chart
While Filet mignon and most steaks are recommended to be cooked at Medium-Rare since that's the temperature point where the juices and tenderness reaches the maximum flavor, you can always cook them at your desired doneness.
For reference, here's a steak doneness chart, so you can see and find your desired level:
For quick reference, here are the doneness levels for beef: Rare: 120°F - Medium Rare: 130°F - Medium: 140°F - Medium Well: 150°F - Well Done: 160°F.
For more advanced details, you can use the table below with doneness levels, temperatures and descriptions to easily determine your desired level.
Recommended Internal Temp
Very Red & Cold
Cold Red Center; Soft
Warm Red Center; Firmer
Pink and Firm
Small Amount of Pink in Center
Gray-Brown throughout; Firm
If you are not already aware, it is always recommended to let your grilled steaks rest before serving them.
Actually, it is recommended to remove them from the heat around 5°F away from the desired temperature and let the meat rest for 5-10 minutes.
During this phase, the meat will still continue to cook for a few minutes, reached the desired temperature. Also, the resting phase allows the juices to settle and preserve the moisture when cutting it into slices.
Because filet mignon lacks fat, you should consider serving it with a sauce or topping to add some flavor and moisture. A few of the recommended Flavored butter recipes down below or Hollandaise Sauce will taste great on this cut. Simply put a tablespoon of butter on top just before serving and you are good to go.
Filet Mignon Cooking Tips
Here are some tips to help you learn how to cook filet mignon on the grill more easily:
How Long to Grill 2-inch Filet Mignon
Based on several recommendations, you should grill a 2-inch filet mignon cut for around 19-24 minutes at 145°F for Medium-Rare doneness and 24-29 Minutes at 160°F for Medium doneness.
After indirect grilling at the upper recommended temperatures, give it a quick sear on both sides to create a nice crust all around.
What Temperature Should I Grill Filet Mignon?
It is recommended to cook on a direct and indirect heat, at around 145°F for Medium-Rare and at around 160°F for a Medium doneness.
How do you Cook the Perfect Filet Mignon Fillet Steak?
For the maximum tenderness and flavor, it is recommended to cook it at a Medium-Rare or Medium doneness. Anything more than that will actually ruin the cut, making it a little bit dry and tough for most of people.