Seasoning and marinating proteins, whether chicken, pork, fish or beef, can transform a tough cut of meat into a velvety, melt-in-your-mouth bite. If you marinate a beef tenderloin before cooking it, for example, your end result will be tender and juicy.
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The process to marinate beef tenderloin is pretty simple. Preparing it days in advance will not only make your end result tastier, but it will also save you time preparing your meal.
Marinate beef tenderloin in a mixture of salt, fat and acid in the refrigerator for 6 to 24 hours. Marinating for longer than 24 hours isn't recommended, as it will cause the meat to become mushy.
Add seasonings, spices and herbs to your beef tenderloin marinade for more flavor.
How to Marinate Beef Tenderloin
Things You'll Need
A container or dish for marinating
Red wine or white vinegar
Cracked black pepper
A marinade is not complete without a few essential ingredients: salt, oil and an acid. All of the other ingredients can be omitted or included according to your flavor preferences.
The salt and acid in a marinade are needed to break down the proteins of a beef tenderloin, which is what tenderizes the meat. Using other ingredients such as sugar or honey, lemon juice, vinegar, herbs and spices will help you flavor your tenderloin even more.
Follow these steps to marinate beef tenderloin:
- Place the extra-virgin olive oil, wine or vinegar, salt and any other ingredients you're using (like garlic, onion, garlic powder, rosemary, sage or pepper) in a large dish. Whisk them together until well combined.
- Pat the beef tenderloin dry with a paper towel.
- Put your beef tenderloin in the mixture and turn it with tongs to coat it evenly.
- Allow the beef tenderloin to marinate for six hours or up to 24 hours. Uncover it once an hour, if possible, and turn the meat. Use a turkey baster to baste the beef with the marinade each time you turn it.
- Pull the beef tenderloin out of the refrigerator about one hour before you plan to cook it to bring the meat down to room temperature. Leave it in the marinade during this time.
Tips for Marinating Beef Tenderloin
1. Don't Marinate Beef Tenderloin Too Long
Marinating is a great technique for imparting a mouth-watering flavor and texture, but you don't want to overdo it.
Don't leave it in the marinade for more than 24 hours, or the protein fibers will break down too much and cause the meat to become soggy and mushy.
2. Flavor the Marinade
Depending on what flavor profile you're going for, there are several seasonings you can add when marinating your meat. Garlic is a popular ingredient, as it goes perfectly with any type of meat.
Chopped herbs (basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme), cumin, dry mustard, cayenne and chili powder are all great seasonings to add when marinating a beef tenderloin.
Ways to Cook Marinated Beef Tenderloin
There are several different ways to cook marinated beef tenderloin. Depending on the size, a tenderloin can be cooked relatively quickly (usually under 30 minutes) for a weeknight meal, or it can be cooked low and slow (perfect for holiday recipes).
Here are a few common cooking methods for marinated beef tenderloin:
- Broiling: Broil your tenderloin on high for about 4 or 5 minutes per side, flipping it in between. This will give you a medium-rare tenderloin, keeping in all of the juices and flavors.
- Roasting (slow): With a slow roast, searing is optional but highly recommended! Roast marinated beef tenderloin in the oven at 225 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 50 minutes per pound for a medium-rare roast.
- Grilling: Grill your tenderloin for about 20 to 25 minutes per pound (turning it every few minutes, so it doesn't burn) over medium heat. Cooking it directly over the flame will give you that (slightly) charred crust.
- Convection Oven: You can cook beef tenderloin in a convection oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 20 to 30 minutes per pound.
Tips for Cooking Beef Tenderloin
To ensure your marinated beef tenderloin comes out juicy, follow these additional tips:
1. Use a Meat Thermometer
Don't rely on your eyes or a timer to determine when your beef tenderloin is fully cooked. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature and ensure you're cooking the tenderloin to your desired temperature.
Even after you take it out of the oven, your tenderloin will continue to cook slightly as it "rests." To ensure it's done to your liking, take it out when the internal temp is 5 to 10 degrees cooler than your desired doneness.
Here's a quick guide to cooking temperatures for beef tenderloin from My Chicago Steak:
- Rare: 120 F to 125 F after the meat has rested. Remove the roast from your oven when its internal temperature reaches 115 F.
- Medium-Rare: 130 to 135 F after the meat has rested. Remove the roast from the oven when its internal temperature reaches 125 F.
- Medium: 140 to 145 F after the meat has rested. Remove the roast from the oven when its internal temperature reaches 135 F.
- Medium-Well: 150 to 155 F after the meat has rested. Remove the roast from the oven when its internal temperature reaches 145 F.
- Well Done: 160 to 165 F after the meat has rested. Remove the roast from the oven when its internal temperature reaches 155 F.
Safe Internal Temperature for Beef Tenderloin
It's recommended that beef be cooked to a minimum safe internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a medium-cooked steak, per the USDA.
Some people like their steak cooked to a cooler internal temp. Just be aware that eating undercooked meat raises your risk of getting a foodborne illness.
2. Let It Rest
Always let your meat rest for at least 10 minutes after it comes off the heat. If you cut it too early, all the juices will run out, and you will lose them. Resting helps keep beef tenderloin flavorful and juicy by allowing the juices to settle into the meat.
What to Serve With Beef Tenderloin
Just like wine, certain foods complement your tenderloin. Luckily, endless options pair well with a perfectly marinated beef tenderloin.
Depending on your preference, you can make a lighter dish like a salad or pair your rich, juicy meat with something a little heartier, like roasted vegetables and mashed potatoes.
Here are a few of our favorite dishes to make with a beef tenderloin: