Beef Tenderloin 101 Tutorial

What Is a Beef Tenderloin?

Beef tenderloin is the most tender cut of beef and it is located within the loin. This is where we get filet mignon, which is made from the very tip of the pointy end of the tenderloin. There is also very little fat within the tenderloin, making it a very lean cut. Because of all that, beef tenderloin is one of the most expensive cuts of beef.

Tenderloin is the long, narrow, and lean muscle located within the Loin; this is the most tender cut of beef available. The Tenderloin is the source of Tenderloin Steak or Filet Mignon and is a component of T-Bone and Porterhouse Steaks.

What are the different cuts of the beef tenderloin?

The whole tenderloin is broken down into three parts.

  • The Butt
  • The Center Cut
  • The Tail

What is a Good Price for A FULL Beef Tenderloin?

This conversation starts and ends with Costco and Sam’s Club. Both are places to go to get beef tenderloin. They offer entire tenderloins that you can cut up yourself (unpeeled), or tenderloins already trimmed (peeled).  And if you are ever going to learn how to cut your own steaks, the tenderloin is a great start. Both offer a large selection of tenderloins peeled and un-peeled daily. You might even be able to score a better price, especially right after the holidays when they are trying to clear out inventory. The cost per pound commonly run between $9.99-$16.99 Per pound (Un-peeled) to $16.99-$24.99 per pound (Peeled) for the full strap of tenderloin. They usually both carry a stock of Choice and Prime to choose from.

  • Peeled Tenderloin– Peeled typically has the “chain” and silver skin removed (and much easier for when you trim)
  • Un-Peeled Tenderloin– Has the silver skin and surrounding muscle still on it, often referred to as “the chain”.

Can I trim my own Beef tenderloin the answer is “Yes” 3 easy steps?

  1. Remove the side chain. The side chain is that grizzly piece that runs the length of the tenderloin and is about a ½ inch in diameter. To remove it, insert your fingers between the two muscles and gently separate it with a tug. It should separate easily; you may need to use your knife to totally remove it.
  2. Next, remove the “silver skin” which is a shiny membrane on the outer side of the larger end. Insert the tip of your boning knife under the silver skin about two inches from the end and cut. Lift up on the piece of silver skin, gently slide your knife along the underside of the skin toward the small end. Repeat this until all the silver skin is off.
  3. Remove any fat nodules or hard pieces on all sides of the tenderloin by rubbing up and down the muscle with you hands, cleanup any unneeded pieces with youe knife.


Beef Tenderloin is incredible cooked on the smoker.  Use the reverse sear method to create an incredible smoky flavor, then finishing it over a hot grill for that perfect sear,  then you get the exterior texture of the hot grill marks to enhance the beef flavor.

What is the reverse sear method?

Smoke – Process in which the lower heat and smoke will flavor the meat. We use Cherry and Pecan wood and smoke at 250 degrees F until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 130 degrees F. The Tenderloin is not done yet, we are going to continue cooking over high heat to our desired finishing temperature of 145 degrees F.

Sear – When the beef tenderloin reaches the desired smoke internal temperature of 130 degrees, remove the meat and add it to a high heat to finish. In this case we removed the meat, Then increased the temperature of the smoker’s grill, then finish it by searing it over the hot grill. Alternatively, you can finish it in a searing hot cast-iron pan.



  • 1- 9-10-pound Un-Peeled Tenderloin
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil



  1. Trim beef tenderloin. Remove chain mussel, remove all the silver skin and excess fat nodules off the tenderloin, remove the butt end for a uniform center cut whole tenderloin, save the scraps for other dishes.
  2. In a small bowl, combine Three Little Pig’s Texas Beef Rub & Three Little Pig’s Memphis Rub. Rub trimmed beef tenderloin with the olive oil, and liberally apply the dry rub to the tenderloin. Cover tenderloin in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours prior to cooking.
  3. Remove the tenderloin from the refrigerator and remove from plastic wrap. Prepare your smoker using cherry or pecan wood at 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Place the tenderloin on the smoker until the internal temperature reaches 130 degrees. This should take approximately 45 minutes to an hour. Once the temperature of the meat reaches 130 degrees remove tenderloin.
  5. Prepare grill for high heat or direct grilling. Grill tenderloin 3 minutes per side and remove when the internal temperature of the tenderloin is 140 degrees F, about 8 – 12 minutes total. You will find the tenderloin has roughly three sides as it grills and it easy to rotate.
  6. Remove from heat and let rest 5 minutes prior to slicing.

Chris Marks -CBBQE (Chief BBQ Expert) Three Little Pig’s Rubs & Sauces

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