Beef Tenderloin vs Filet Mignon: 7 Differences

Is Tenderloin the same as filet mignon? If not, what’s the difference? Most people are often seen arguing about these two cuts of beef.

For some beef lovers, they both belong to the same cut but are called with different terms. To clarify, the only difference between Beef Tenderloin and Filet Mignon is not the different name.

Though they both look kind of identical, they are different from each other in a variety of ways.

Many steak aficionados are confused because of the similarities of these cuts, therefore, when buying the best cut for steak, it becomes almost impossible to decide between the two. Both of these expensive prime cuts of beef are reserved for special occasions.

Beef Tenderloin and Filet Mignon are two well-regarded and valued cuts among steak lovers.

A person having less experience shopping for steak is going to have a hard time choosing between these two prime cuts.

These are so popular cuts that you do not have to be a beef mad to know them. Let’s dive into the Beef Tenderloin vs Filet Mignon debate.

Beef Tenderloin Vs Filet Mignon

Since both cuts come from the same part of the beef, it would stand to reason that they are identical slices just with a different name.

The key difference between these two cuts is that tenderloin is a large portion of meat taken from the animal’s spine side.

Whereas, Filet Mignon is the beefsteak taken from the portion of tenderloin at the tip of the entire strip of meat.

After understanding this key difference, filet mignon can be called tenderloin, on the contrary, the entire tenderloin is not filet mignon.

Tenderloin is a long muscle whereas filet mignon is just the conical tip of it. That’s not the only way these two cuts differ from each other, know them separately first to understand other differences better.

What is Tenderloin?

Beef-Tenderloin

Tenderloin is a long, narrow, and lean muscle found between sirloin and the top lion.

The entire tenderloin muscle ranges from eighteen to twenty-four inches spanning from loin primal to the sirloin primal.

It is located near the cow’s backbone, therefore, less exercised.

It does not bear any weight or is involved in any kind of exercise, therefore, muscle fibers are smaller and tender yielding fine-grained, lean meat with little connective tissue or fat.

It has only a thin layer of silver skin which can be removed before cooking.

Weighing 4 to 6 pounds, it can be easily sold as whole filet, rounds, or in medallions.

The larger medallions are called tornadoes and the top end of the tenderloin is called “Chateaubriand” which can be a meal for two people.

Tornadoes or large medallions are cooked individually. This expensive cut has less fat and goes well with different types of sauces and dressings.

It is sold both as trimmed and untrimmed, the untrimmed tenderloin has fat and silverskin that is often removed before cooking.

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What is Filet Mignon?

Filet Mignon

The term Filet translates to thick, boneless slice, and the word Mignon means small.

Filet Mignon is the cut of beef from the narrow, front part of the tenderloin, located near the short loin.

It is often confused with tenderloin, especially when it is cut into medallions. However, it is not the entire tenderloin muscle, just cut from the conical end of it.

This lean piece of meat has hardly any marbling, connective tissue, or fat, as a result, not full of beefy flavor.

Filet Mignon is extremely tender that it almost melts in your mouth when properly cooked. However, it is not full of flavor of its own.

It goes well with different beef recipes, sauces, and dressings. This expensive cut of meat can be evenly sliced into thick steaks like medallions.

As the name implies, Filet Mignon is a small cut ranging from 1 ½ to 2 ½ inches in diameter.

It should have layers of fat to add to the tenderness. This 2-inch steak is highly prized and one of the expensive beef cuts. Though it lacks flavor, still, it is referred to as the King of Steak.

Difference Between Tenderloin and Filet Mignon

Now that you know each cut independently, it would be easier to know the differences between beef Tenderloin and Filet Mignon.

Firstly, let’s start with a similarity, these two cuts come from the same part of the animal and are known for their tenderness.

Besides that, they differ from each other in a lot of ways, so, let’s head over to this BBQ showdown Beef Tenderloin vs Filet Mignon.

Beef Cut

One of the reasons why these two cuts are confused with each other is that they come from the same muscle of the animal.

Tenderloin is a long muscle stretched from Sirloin to the Loin, comprising three cuts; tail, center-cut, and the butt. Tenderloin is sold as the entire piece of meat.

Filet Mignon is the small part of the tenderloin, coming from the short loin or tail end of the muscle.

It is the conical, end portion of the tenderloin. Filet Mignon is cut from the tenderloin and often sold in round pieces.

Type of Meat

Tenderloin is a tender beef cut with no bone. This lean meat cut has less marbled fat or connective tissue as this part of the animal gets next to no exercise.

Filet Mignon is a little more tender than the rest of the muscle. It is a boneless, lean cut of meat that lacks beefy flavor.

Size

As you know by now, tenderloin is a larger cut of meat including the entire muscle weighing 4 to 6 pounds.

It is better suited for recipes like Beef Wellington to cook shareable beef dishes for large gatherings. It can be cut into small medallions to cook separately.

Filet Mignon is a small beef cut perfect for one steak or two people sharing a meal. Ask for this beef cut when cooking one perfect steak.

Cooking Method

Due to its large size, tenderloin is classified as a roasting cut, therefore, larger sections are cooked on a roasting rack.

Put it in the 425-degree oven for under an hour for medium-rare. The internal temperature should be 135 °F. Alternatively, roast the tenderloin low and slow and then broil it to sear the exterior.

Filet Mignon is boneless, having low fat, therefore, it cooks extremely fast.

Sear the cut in a hot oven-safe skillet until the brown rust appears, then, put it in the oven for a few seconds to finish cooking. It can also be pan-fried in a skillet over high heat, three to eight minutes per side.

Cooking Time

Since tenderloin is a larger piece of meat, it is evident that it is going to take more time. If you cook medallions individually, then, just a few minutes.

Filet Mignon is a smaller cut, therefore, it takes less time to cook, also it is easier to manage owing to the small size.

Serving

Tenderloin cut is enough on its own and does not need to be served with other dishes. This large cut is enough to serve a group of people.

Filet Mignon does not have a special beefy flavor, therefore, served with sauces and dressings. Being a small-sized cut, it can only be served to a single person.

Appearance

As stated above, tenderloin is a long, narrow, and very lean muscle. Both cuts are tender and lean, lacking flavor.

Filet means thick, so, this cut stays true to its name and it is a short and thick lean muscle with little fat and connective tissue. Both are tender and juicer meat steaks, however, rather tasteless.

Expensive

Though both cuts are tasteless and not the preferred choice of many chefs, still they are fairly expensive. Tenderloin is considered one of the pricier dishes on the restaurant menu.

Filet Mignon is more expensive than the tenderloin and is considered one of the highly-priced beef cuts.

Presentation

Tenderloin is cooked as a whole and then sliced to medallions. Alternatively, this cut is divided into small pieces and then cooked as round steaks individually.

Filet Mignon is often wrapped and secured in bacon to enhance flavor and add more fat to the edge of the meat. Both of these cuts are used in dishes needing flavoring and tenderness.

Butchery Style

Depending on different parts of the world and regional butchery styles, filet mignon can be found in different cuts.

In France, cattle are cut according to muscle divisions. Tenderloin is cut into different sections including filet mignon in the front, the châteaubriand in the middle, and the biftk at the end.

In American-style butchery, Tenderloin is a larger cut, the entire muscle includes filet mignon, porterhouse steak, and the châteaubriand.

Nutrition

As expected from steaks, tenderloin roast is packed with nutrition. In a 3-ounce tenderloin serving, there are 275 calories, 280 mg of Potassium, and about 20 grams of protein.

The 3-ounce Filet Mignon portion contains 225 calories, no carbohydrates, and 22 grams of protein. It is also a great source of niacin, phosphorus, selenium, zinc, and iron.

Preference

Now that you know all the differences, it is up to your personal choice to decide which cut you are buying for steak.

Both are better meat cut choices, individuals prefer smaller slices of filet mignon whereas tenderloin can be cooked and roasted as one piece for a group of people.

Read about the other two parts of cows

Conclusion

There is a lot of confusion between these two terms, to clarify once and for all, Tenderloin can also be Filet Mignon whereas Filet Mignon is part of the Tenderloin cut. Both lack flavor, so, you may have a hard time deciding which one is better.

  • Hi, I am Talon Juper, a passionate farmer, and Livestock Expert. I have done my graduation in Agriculture and Animal breeding. Relevant to Farm Desire as a research writer and data recorder.

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