Grilled Beef Tenderloin

updated Dec 11, 2023
christmas
Grilled Beef Tenderloin Recipe

Here's why beef tenderloin is superb for the grill: you get tender meat inside plus browned deliciousness on the outside.

Serves6 to 8

Prep5 minutes

Cook28 minutes to 35 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Overhead shot of beef tenderloin slices on a white platter, topped with sauce.
Credit: Photographer: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Ben Weiner

When you need a special-occasion meal, a beef tenderloin roast is the way to go. Although it has that wow factor when you bring it to the table, it’s actually fairly easy to prepare. Simply season it with salt and pepper, brown it stovetop, then roast just long enough for a rosy pink middle. But what’s even easier and perhaps even more impressive is grilled beef tenderloin.

Grilling your tenderloin guarantees that your kitchen will stay cool and available for prepping side dishes. Then all you have to do is slice your grilled tenderloin and maybe top it with a compound butter for a crowd-pleasing main dish. Plus, there are no pans to wash after.

Why Beef Tenderloin Is Great for the Grill

Tenderloin is a boneless cut of beef that cooks up juicy and tender. It’s great to make on the grill because you can get a high temperature that sears the outside of the tenderloin to get it browned and full of flavor.

Lots of smoke can develop while the beef is searing, so cooking it outside keeps your kitchen smoke-free. A grill can also fit a larger roast, which is great if you’re feeding a crowd. Plus, using the grill frees up your stovetop and oven for other dishes. 

At What Temperature Should I Grill Beef Tenderloin?

Tenderloin benefits from starting at high heat to develop a nice crust on the outside, then finishing at a lower temperature to make sure the center is cooked to the right doneness.

For a gas grill, start at high heat (about 500ºF), then turn it down to medium-low heat. For a charcoal grill, pile the coals on one half of the grill to create both direct and indirect heat so that there’s a hotter zone for searing and a cooler zone to finish the cooking.

How Long Does It Take to Grill Beef Tenderloin?

A tenderloin roast needs about 10 minutes over high heat to develop a browned crust on the outside, then it needs anywhere from 18 to 25 minutes more cooking time over a lower heat until it’s medium-rare in the center (115ºF on an instant-read thermometer).

The thickness of the roast determines the cooking time, so thinner roasts will cook more quickly. Use an instant-read thermometer to best gauge the doneness of the tenderloin — especially if your roast is thinner or larger.

Credit: Photographer: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Ben Weiner

Tips for Grilling Beef Tenderloin

  • Recruit the butcher. When you buy the tenderloin, ask the butcher to trim and tie it for you. All you have to do is season and cook it once you get home.
  • Compound butter. Beef tenderloin doesn’t really need a sauce, but a compound butter like garlic butter is delicious as it melts over the slices. You can make compound butter ahead of time and even freeze it for a few weeks. Just make sure it comes to room temperature before topping the beef.
  • How much beef to buy. Here’s a guide to figure out how much tenderloin you should buy, which is about half a pound per person. Although this recipe calls for a roast of about three pounds, you can halve the recipe or get a larger roast if you want. Just adjust the seasoning accordingly and keep an eye on the internal temperature to know when it’s done.

Grilled Beef Tenderloin Recipe

Here's why beef tenderloin is superb for the grill: you get tender meat inside plus browned deliciousness on the outside.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 28 minutes to 35 minutes

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons

    compound butter, such as garlic butter (optional)

  • 1

    (3 to 3 1/2-pound) trimmed beef tenderloin roast

  • 1 tablespoon

    vegetable oil

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon

    coarsely ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat an outdoor grill: For a gas grill, heat for direct, high heat (about 500ºF). For a charcoal grill, heat for two-zone heat (direct and indirect heat). Meanwhile, cut 4 tablespoons compound butter into 8 pieces if using and let sit at room temperature to soften. Prepare the tenderloin.

  2. Trim off any remaining gristle or silverskin from 1 (3 to 3 1/2-pound) tenderloin. If the tenderloin is not of an even thickness, tuck the thinner end under itself. Use kitchen twine to tie the tenderloin crosswise into an even piece, spacing the ties about 2 inches apart (or use this method instead).

  3. Pat the tenderloin dry with paper towels. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and use your hands to rub it all over. Season all over with 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper.

  4. Scrape the grill grates clean if needed. Place the tenderloin on the grill (the hotter side if using a charcoal grill). Cover and cook until dark grill marks form on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Flip the tenderloin, cover, and cook until dark grill marks form on the second side, about 5 minutes more.

  5. For a gas grill, reduce the heat to medium low. Keep the tenderloin where it is but flip it. For a charcoal grill, flip the tenderloin and move it to the cooler side of the grill. Cover and grill for 10 minutes.

  6. Flip the tenderloin again. Cover and grill until the tenderloin registers 115ºF on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part for medium-rare, 8 to 15 minutes more.

  7. Transfer to a clean cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Remove and discard the kitchen twine. Cut crosswise into about 3/4-inch thick slices. Transfer to a serving platter, shingling the slices. Dot with the compound butter before serving if using and let it sit for a minute or two to begin melting before serving.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The tenderloin can be tied and refrigerated, loosely covered, up to 1 day ahead before seasoning and grilling.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.