Celebrate the holiday season and any special occasion with this easy, elegant and melt-in-your-mouth slow-roasted beef tenderloin served with horseradish cream sauce. You’ll slow roast, reverse-sear your way to an ultra-tender, perfectly medium-rare tenderloin with a flavorful nutty brown crust your guests will rave about.
I totally get buying an expensive cut of meat can be intimidating because the last thing you want to do is screw up Christmas dinner. A beef tenderloin roast is a lean cut so it can easily become dry when overcooked.
But this low-and-slow method not only safeguards against overcooking, it ensures you'll have perfectly pink results from edge to edge every time. And it takes much less time to roast than a turkey if you're looking to change things up from the traditional Thanksgiving menu.😉
Ingredients & Substitutions
Whole Beef Tenderloin – Be sure to go to a quality market and figure on 6-8 ounces per serving. Whole tenderloins are typically 4 to 5 pounds, serving 8-12 people. When having a smaller crowd, look for the smaller center-cut tenderloin, known as chateaubriand.
Seasoning – The dry rub consists of dried thyme, oregano, garlic powder, cumin, kosher salt and black pepper. Dried rosemary, sage, parsley, marjoram and paprika all work. You can even go for mocha flavors with espresso, cocoa powder and a dash of cinnamon!
Fresh Herbs – Fresh rosemary, thyme, oregano and sage are tucked in the butcher’s twine for added flavor. I wouldn't recommend delicate herbs like parsley, basil, chives or tarragon.
Olive Oil & Butter – Olive oil is used to coat the raw beef so the dry rub will adhere. If you don’t have olive oil, use whatever is in your pantry. Butter is used to sear the tenderloin after roasting and it's the perfect finishing touch of flavor.
Horseradish Sauce - Up to 3 days in advance, you can make this sauce. I used a base of cream cheese, but you could use sour cream or creme fraiche. In addition to horseradish, there’s milk, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and fresh herbs. It's a tangy complement to the beef and a delicious spread for sandwiches if you have leftovers.
Cooking Steps & Tips
Trim – Pat roast with paper towels and cut off any excess fat and silver skin with a sharp knife. Silver skin is a tough membrane that does not tenderize when cooked. Check out this tutorial on how to prep a tenderloin that isn’t already trimmed.
Tie – A whole tenderloin has a ‘rump’ end, then is pretty even in the middle that tapers off to a point. It’s key to fold the tapered end underneath to create uniform thickness as best you can and tie with kitchen string every couple of inches to keep its shape.
TIP: Be sure to tie a center-cut chateaubriand too in spite of it being the same thickness.
Season – Brush olive oil on prepped tenderloin then rub dried seasoning mixture all over. Tuck the fresh herbs in the twine. Refrigerate uncovered overnight, if possible, or at least 4 hours if you have time. Don’t sweat it though if you need to head to the oven!
TIP: When an uncovered roast tenderloin (turkey or chicken) hangs out in the fridge overnight, the seasoned exterior dries, creating the ultimate crispy, flavored crust.
Roast – This tenderloin took about an hour and 20 minutes at 250 degrees F. Remove from oven when a digital thermometer reads 120 degrees. Between the carryover cooking and searing you’ll end up right around 125 – 130 degrees for perfect medium-rare beef.
TIP: Make sure your tenderloin had time to come to room temperature. Take it out of the fridge 60-90 minutes before roasting to ensure even cooking.
Sear – When your tenderloin is just about to come out of the oven, heat butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear on each side 30 seconds, 2 minutes total. If the tenderloin is too large for a skillet, you can broil each side for the same amount of time.
TIP: After searing it's important the meat rests. The juices need to redistribute rather than run all over your cutting board. Tent your beautiful tenderloin with aluminum foil and don’t touch it for 10-15 minutes.
Temperatures for Degree of Doneness
These are temperature ranges depending on how you like your beef cooked: 125 – 130 degrees F for medium-rare; 135 – 140 degrees for medium; and 145 - 150 degrees F for medium-well. If you end up going over 150 degrees with a beef tenderloin, that’s an expensive oops.
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What wine should I serve?
This is an incredibly tender and lean cut, giving it a delicate flavor compared to a juicy, hearty ribeye. Dry, red wine like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Malbec are great choices. Also, a smoky Pinot Noir or even a rich Chardonnay will pair nicely with the beef.
What can I do with leftover beef tenderloin?
Store any leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate up to 4 days. You can turn them into crostini, sandwiches, baked Philly cheesesteak potatoes, or add to a stir fry. And you can enjoy an amazing steak and eggs breakfast the next day!
Beef Tenderloin FAQs
You can roast the whole tenderloin untied so the tapered end will be more done than the thicker parts. Also, you can cut the tenderloin into sections or steaks and cook separately to please everyone. But always have your meat thermometer handy!
You can but it's not recommended. Slow cookers use moist heat for cooking. To maximize the flavor of the tenderloin and have a crusty exterior, using dry heat is the best option. Save the crockpot for tougher cuts that thrive in slow moist cooking like pot roasts and stews.
A filet mignon is part of the tenderloin, but not the other way around. The filet is a cut from the tenderloin that reaches into the cow's short loin. Also, when butchers cut a whole tenderloin into steaks they are referred to as filet mignon.
It’s known as the most tender cut of beef and taken from a muscle that runs down the cow's back which gets very little exercise, making it so succulent. This portion is only 8% of the cow so a lot of cattle are needed to meet demand for this upscale delicacy.
Slow Roasted Whole Beef Tenderloin
- 1 4-pound beef tenderloin , trimmed and tied
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon each of dried thyme, oregano, cumin, garlic powder and black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 10 fresh thyme sprigs
- 5 fresh rosemary sprigs
- 5 fresh oregano sprigs
- 5 sage leaves
- 4 tablespoons butter
Horseradish Cream Sauce
- ¾ cup cream cheese , room temperature
- ¼ cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
- ½ tablespoon each of fresh oregano and thyme leaves
- 1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
- ½ lemon , juiced
- Kosher salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
- Line a large, rimmed baking sheet pan with foil and set a roasting rack inside the pan.
- Fold the thin end underneath the thicker part to keep the tenderloin the same thickness as much as possible. Tie the meat with butcher’s twine in 1 to 2-inch intervals. Place tenderloin on prepared sheet pan.
- In a small bowl, whisk the salt, dried thyme, oregano, cumin, garlic powder and black pepper until combined.
- Evenly coat the tenderloin with olive oil.
- Rub the dried herb mixture all over the meat.
- Tuck bunches of the fresh herbs under the twine.
- Refrigerate tenderloin uncovered overnight or at least 4 hours. if possible. Remove from refrigerator 60-90 minutes before roasting so it can come up to room temperature.
- Roast tenderloin in preheated oven until it reaches 120 degrees F, about 80-90 minutes for medium-rare. Rotate the pan halfway through cooking time. (Use an instant-read thermometer to check the tenderloin’s temperature after an hour to see where you are.)
- When you’ve reached desired doneness (see temperature scale in Notes section), remove tenderloin from oven.
- Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- When butter has melted and begins to foam, add the tenderloin to the skillet and sear 30 seconds on each side, 2 minutes total. (If the tenderloin is too large for a skillet, you can broil each side for the same amount of time.)
- Tent the tenderloin with foil and let rest 10-15 minutes before slicing.
- Serve tenderloin on a platter with roasted potatoes, or other side dishes, and the Horseradish Cream Sauce on the side. Enjoy!
Horseradish Cream Sauce
- Whisk all ingredients in a medium bowl until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill. Let sit at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.)
Degree of DonenessYou’re looking for 125 – 130 degrees F for medium-rare, 135 – 140 degrees F for medium, and 145 - 150 degrees F for medium-well. *See post for Recipe Tips and Serving Suggestions.
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