How to Cook Perfect Slow-Roasted Beef Tenderloin
Low and slow is the way to go! Behold, the star of your holiday table, a juicy, tender medium-rare beef tenderloin roast with a red wine-mushroom sauce. Grab an apron and get our tips, tools, and the best beef tenderloin recipe ever.
(Want more Christmas recipes and tips? Check out our big Yummly Christmas page!)
At least once this holiday season, you owe yourself and your clan a pull-out-the-stops dish, one that everyone will still be raving about next December. Our Slow-Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine Mushroom Sauce won’t fail to deliver, and I'll tell you three big reasons why.
The first: you’ll nail the perfect doneness. A whole beef tenderloin, which is a gorgeous, ultra-tender cut of meat, is always impressive. But sometimes, cooking the center to medium-rare results in an overdone ring around the outside. With our low and slow beef tenderloin technique (and an assist from the Yummly® Smart Thermometer), you’ll get a perfect medium-rare throughout.
Then there’s the red wine mushroom sauce, with concentrated, layered flavors that go on and on. Martha Holmberg, the talented recipe creator, teaches us how to coax out deep flavors and get foolproof results from the sauce as well as the meat, even if this is your first time roasting beef tenderloin. (And yes, you can make the sauce ahead!)
Finally, this recipe comes with a guided video. So you can watch how to tie a beef tenderloin and learn any other techniques you might be unsure about.
While you’re going to need a few hours total time to make the beef tenderloin recipe, the results will be totally worth it. So let’s head to holiday cooking school and see how this recipe goes together.
Jump ahead to:
Beef tenderloin Q&A
Before you splurge on this pricey cut, why not cover a few basics?
1. What is beef tenderloin?
Beef tenderloin is a long, slender cut that comes from the back part of the animal, in the loin and sirloin. It’s sometimes called the most tender cut of beef, and it’s known for a melt-in-your-mouth, buttery texture. If you’re curious, a center-cut beef tenderloin is known as a chateaubriand, and the delicate tip portion of a beef tenderloin, cut into steaks, is called filet mignon.
2. How much does beef tenderloin cost?
Beef tenderloin can cost $20-$40 per pound. Our beef tenderloin recipe calls for a 3 1/2-pound roast, so plan to spend $70 to $140. Big-box stores like Costco tend to carry beef tenderloin at the lower price range.
3. How much beef tenderloin per person
A 3 1/2-pound beef tenderloin roast serves 8 nicely. That’s 7 ounces per person.
4. How to tie a beef tenderloin
No need to pull out your scouting book of knots! While a long, continuous looped butcher’s knot looks fancy, for this roasted beef tenderloin recipe, just cut 8-12 pieces of kitchen twine, each long enough to wrap around the meat. Tie the roast with the twine at even intervals, tight enough to help the meat hold its shape. To see how, tap Make it Now on the recipe video.
5. How long to cook beef tenderloin in the oven
For our beef tenderloin slow roast, you’ll cook the 3 1/2-pound roast at 275°F for about 1 hour, until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 135°F for medium-rare. At this point the outside will be golden brown.
6. How long to cook beef tenderloin per pound
How long to cook beef tenderloin per pound depends on the oven temperature, the size of the roast, and the doneness you’re looking for. In a 275°F oven, a 3 1/2-pound beef tenderloin takes 1 hour to reach medium-rare.
7. Beef tenderloin temperature
Using a meat thermometer like the Yummly Smart Thermometer, it’s easy to choose your favorite doneness. Note, though, that beef tenderloin is a lean cut and will be the most juicy if you don’t cook it past medium-rare.
Rare beef tenderloin, 125°F
Medium-rare beef tenderloin, 135°F
Medium beef tenderloin, 145°F
Medium-well beef tenderloin, 150°F
Well-done beef tenderloin, 160°F
8. What to serve with beef tenderloin
With such a splurge-worthy main dish, you can keep the side dishes simple: maybe mashed potatoes or crispy roasted potatoes, green beans or a big green salad, and perhaps a dollop of creamy horseradish sauce if you like.
Equipment for roasted beef tenderloin
You may already own the two pieces of equipment you need to cook beef tenderloin in the oven.
An accurate meat thermometer. You’ll want to know when the beef reaches your perfect doneness. The wireless Yummly Smart Thermometer lets you monitor the progress of your holiday roast right from your smartphone. Just insert the thermometer into the meat and tap to choose your preferred doneness. Pre-set programs on the Yummly app guide the way from there. As you cook, the app tracks the internal temperature of the meat, keeps track of the cooking time, and alerts you when you should remove the beef tenderloin from the heat to rest so you avoid overcooking.
A sheet pan. You don’t need a roasting pan for this recipe. A sheet pan (aka a rimmed baking sheet) works great.
How to cook sauce for beef tenderloin
Creating the red wine-mushroom sauce is a several-step process that involves some prep time, but the good news is it reheats beautifully if you want to make it two or three days ahead.
1. Saute mushroom stems with tomato paste and seasonings
Begin building the flavors of the sauce by cooking the mushroom stems with tomato paste, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and a little sugar to encourage caramelization.
2. Add red wine, and simmer to concentrate
Next add a dry but fruity red wine such as gamay or Côtes du Rhône — plus a splash of balsamic vinegar — and cook down to intensify.
3. Stir in sauteed mushroom caps and shallot for body
After thickening the red wine reduction with a flour-butter roux, you’ll saute the mushrooom caps and a shallot to concentrate the flavors. Combine the mixtures to create texture in the sauce and to continue building the flavors.
4. Blend in Worcestershire, Parmesan, and pepper for umami
That taste we call umami that some describe as “savory” gets further deepened with the addition of Parmesan, Worcestershire, and black pepper. A big pat of butter pulls the flavors together and gives the sauce a silken finish. (Holmberg prefers salted butter, but you could use unsalted butter if you prefer.)
With the sauce taken care of and perhaps resting in the fridge, let’s move on to how to load up your roast with flavor.
How to cook beef tenderloin roast
A generous spoonful of that gorgeous sauce would seal the deal on any roast, but Holmberg likes to infuse the beef tenderloin itself with garlic and herbs, using a couple of clever techniques. First, though, be sure to trim any silver skin from the outside of the roast — that’s the shiny connective tissue that can get chewy if you leave it on.
1. Slip slices of garlic into the meat
Here’s a trick to add to your repertoire. With a small, sharp knife, cut slits into the beef tenderloin. Thinly slice several garlic cloves and then stuff each slit with a piece of garlic.
2. Tuck herb sprigs under the butcher’s twine
After rubbing the piece of meat all over with kosher salt, some black pepper, and a little extra-virgin olive oil, tie it snugly with butcher’s twine. Then slip in fresh thyme and rosemary sprigs and set the meat on a sheet pan.
3. Slow roast the beef tenderloin
Roasting beef tenderloin at a gentle 275°F rather than the typical high heat has several advantages. The meat cooks more evenly, meaning you achieve medium-rare throughout. The meat also takes longer to cook (about an hour total cook time), so it’s more forgiving — it doesn’t go from done to overdone in a flash. Finally, there’s no need to bring the meat to room temperature or sear it before it goes in the oven (but do preheat the oven).
4. Cook beef tenderloin to 135° for medium-rare
Of course you can choose whatever doneness you prefer, but I especially love beef tenderloin cooked to a rosy and still juicy medium-rare. Let the roast rest on a cutting board while you reheat the sauce, then slice and serve.
Get the best beef tenderloin recipe
This beef tenderloin recipe is perfect for Christmas dinner, New Year’s, or any other special occasion you’re dreaming up for the season.
More inspiration for your holiday menu
From meaty mains like glazed ham and roasted prime rib to vegetarian nut loaves and savory galettes, there’s lots more to explore in these next articles.