Smoked Beef Tenderloin – Reverse Sear

Smoked Beef Tenderloin – Reverse Sear

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

David and I smoked our first beef tenderloin on his Weber Performer charcoal grill, a few weeks ago. After it slowly smoked over cherry wood, we finished it with a hot fiery reverse sear with fresh herbs and garlic butter. 

GOOD LORD, that piece of me was to die for!!

The meat was so tender and juicy it practically melted in your mouth. It was cooked perfectly with a delicious garlicky herb-seared crust. We had our neighbor (our tasting guinea pig) over to eat with us that night and all three of us have not been able to stop talking about how good the smoked beef tenderloin was.

sliced smoked beef tenderloin on platter

Beef tenderloin is known as a favorite holiday, special occasion, or celebratory dish. It can be quite expensive, but if you purchase a whole untrimmed beef tenderloin is a little cheaper. Somehow I managed to find one on sale during this crazy pandemic. I didn’t know exactly what we were going to do with it, but I’ve always wanted to cook one and seized the opportunity. 

David and I say life is too short to sit around waiting for a holiday or special occasion to cook meat. I mean really, you could wake up dead tomorrow and never get your lips around this juicy piece of meat again, right?!? 

Fire up the grill and celebrate summer with this amazing smoked beef tenderloin or if you really want to get all fancy about it, call it “filet mignon”. 

Today, we are sharing a step-by-step guide about how we smoked beef tenderloin with a reverse sear so that you can do it at home on your grill too. 

beef tenderloin with twine

What is Beef Tenderloin?

Beef tenderloin is probably the most tender cuts on a cow, known for being lean tender and juicy with an easy to carve fine texture. Beef tenderloin is where filet mignon comes from. It’s part of the cow that is high up inside beneath the ribs, next to the backbone. This muscle is not weight-bearing so it has a minimal amount of connective tissue which makes it very tender.

beef tenderloin over hot coals

What is Reverse Sear?

Beef tenderloin has low-fat content so a reverse sear gives the meat incredible flavor. Reverse sear is a method of smoking beef tenderloin so that it allows the meat to take on a nice cherry wood flavor as it slowly smokes. then the tenderloin is seared over the hot fire while basted with an herb brush drenched in garlic butter. The result is a sizzling crust on the outside with a blood-red medium-rare center. 

The low-and-slow cooking gives you a large window of time between  perfectly cooked meat and meat that is overdone. When cooked correctly, tenderloin may be the best beef you will ever pull off the grill.

Let’s smoke a tenderloin!

smoked meat on cutter board with tongs, herb brush, grill gloves, instant-read thermometer and pot of garlic butter

How To Make Smoked Beef Tenderloin – Reverse Sear

What You’ll Need:

(1) 3 to 5 pound center cut beef tenderloin, trimmed

For The Dry Rub:

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder

For the Garlic Butter:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, (½ stick)
  • 2 peeled garlic cloves, smashed

Herb Brush (Bouquet Garni):

  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme

Equipment and Supplies:

David trimming tenderloin

#1 Trim The Tenderloin

The beef tenderloin needs to be trimmed, so if you buy an untrimmed whole beef tenderloin, cut off the excess fat, chain, connective tissue, silver skin, and remove the muscle-on roast. 

I ain’t gonna lie, this piece of meat starts out ugly like some kind of weird alien or something. It looks better after you trim it. However, it really doesn’t look that appetizing until you reverse-sear it and sliced open.

The beginning weight of our untrimmed whole beef tenderloin was right at 5 pounds. By the time it was trimmed the tenderloin weighed 2.8 pounds. So roughly 2 pounds of fat, connective tissue, silverskin, and meat was removed from the tenderloin. However, the scraps of fat and meat are NOT waste. Save them for grinding hamburger or other recipes. 

tying up the tail of tenderloin with twine

#2 Prepare the Tenderloin

Since the tail of the tenderloin can be somewhat thinner, a good way to ensure even cooking is to fold it under and secure it with butcher’s twine. This will double up the thickness of the tail and allow it to cook more evenly across the tenderloin. Some go a step further by cinching the whole tenderloin to ensure even cooking.

tucking tail under for tying
tying up the tail of tenderloin with twine

In a small bowl, whisk together the dry rub ingredients to combine. Sprinkle the rub across the beef tenderloin pressing lightly with clean hands to help it adhere to the meat. Place the rubbed beef tenderloin in the refrigerator for at least two hours prior to lighting the grill.

Smoking the beef tenderloin right away is ok, but sitting in the refrigerator for several hours allows the rub to penetrate the meat, especially the salt.

sprinkling dry rub on meat

Salt is the most valuable part of this dry rub mixture. When you put salt on meat, it does a little more than give it flavor. The salt dissolves into the natural juices of the meat. This helps dissolve the proteins (myosin) in the meat that makes it shrink when heated. Allowing the dry rub to stay on the meat will help it shrink less and expel more moisture during cooking, which helps with browning.

cherry wood chunk on hot coals

#3 Fire Up the Grill For Smoking

For this recipe, David used his Weber Performer charcoal grill, a kettle-style grill. To smoke the tenderloin slowly, he uses an indirect heat technique placing the hot charcoal on one side of the grill.

Prepare the grill for indirect heat and preheat the grill to 250 degrees F. To maintain this low temperature, use only half as much charcoal as usual. (A half chimney-full.)

tenderloin cooking over indirect heat

#4 Slow Smoke The Prepared Beef Tenderloin

Remove the tenderloin from the refrigerator and place it on the cool side of the grill grate. Throw a chunk of cherry wood onto the bed of coals and slow smoke the tenderloin over indirect heat, with the lid closed.

taking temperature of meat
Read more about David’s BBQ Grill and Smoker Accessories HERE.

Smoke the tenderloin until an instant-read thermometer reads approximately 135 degrees F; about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Then remove the beef tenderloin from the grill.

herb brush with twine and scissors

#5 Make A Herb Brush For Basting (Bouquet Garni)

Meanwhile, make a herb brush to baste the meat. This brush is much like a “bouquet garni”. “Bouquet garni” are two fancy French words that mean “garnished bouquet”. 

Essentially what this refers to is a bunch of herbs tied together with a string. “Bouquet Garni” sounds better than strung up herbs, so let roll with it! However, you don’t want to hear David’s pronunciation of that culinary term.

To make the herb brush, you’ll need two long sprigs of rosemary and two long sprigs of thyme. Remove the last 4 to 5 inches of green needle-like leaves from the rosemary; discard or use for another time. Then gather the sprigs of thyme and rosemary together and tie it into a bundle along the woody stem of the rosemary with butcher’s twine. Set aside until needed.

herb brush in melted garlic butter

#6 Prepare the Garlic Butter

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Smash the two cloves of garlic with the side of a chef’s knife, peel off the skin and add them to the melted butter. Simmer for about a minute stirring the butter with the herb brush, until the butter becomes fragrant. Be careful not to get the butter too hot or it will burn and scorch the garlic. Turn off the heat and set aside until needed.

David grilling beef tenderloin

#7 Reverse Sear The Smoked Tenderloin With Herbs & Garlic Butter

Prepare the grill for direct high heat grilling. Spread out the already hot charcoals and light up fresh hot charcoal.

Note: David mentioned that lighting up the charcoal chimney again would probably speed up the process, rather than throwing the new coals on top of the cooling charcoal bed.

preparing hot coals for meat

When the charcoal is ready and the grill is hot, place the tenderloin back onto the hot grate. Have the herb brush and garlic butter warm and ready to go. Grill the beef tenderloin about 3 minutes on each side. Check the tenderloin with an instant-read thermometer often. 

When the meat is about 138 degrees F, carefully dip the herb brush into the warm garlic butter and baste each side of the tenderloin. Use caution, as the butter will cause the flames to lick up high on the meat. Have the lid handy to help put out overpowering flames. (Grilling gloves are recommended.)

brushing hot flaming meat with herb brush and garlic butter

When the meat temperature is at 140 degrees F. Remove from the grill immediately. The carryover heat will bring the meat to the perfect doneness of 145 degrees F. 

Place the meat on a carving board and allow it to rest at least 10 minutes. Perfectly smoked beef tenderloin will have a dark red center and be light pink on the outside.

smoked beef tenderloin on a platter with herb brush
sliced smoked beef tenderloin on platter

How To Serve Beef Tenderloin

To serve, carve the tenderloin into 1-inch-thick medallions. Serve the beef as is or with a Creamy Horseradish Sauce With Roasted Garlic, Honey Mustard BBQ Sauce, or sauce of your choice.

a bite of smoked beef tenderloin on fork with sauce and mountain view

Celebrate summer with all of your carnivorous friends gathered around the grill outdoors. They won’t be able to stop talking about it!

sliced beef tenderloin
Print Pin Rate this Recipe
0 from 0 votes

Smoked Beef Tenderloin – Reverse Sear

A step-by-step guide to smoked beef tenderloin with a reverse sear that results in melt in your mouth, tender, juicy beef with a garlicky herb-seared crust.
Course dinner
Cuisine American
Keyword beef, reverse sear, smoked, Whole Beef Tenderloin
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Refrigeration 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours 45 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 698kcal

Ingredients

  • 3 pound beef tenderloin, trimmed 3 to 5-pound center-cut

Dry Rub:

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder

Garlic Butter

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (½ stick)
  • 2 garlic cloves peeled and smashed / crushed

Herb Brush (Bouquet Garni)

  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme

Instructions

Trim The Tenderloin

  • The beef tenderloin needs to be trimmed, so if you buy an untrimmed whole beef tenderloin, cut off the excess fat, chain, connective tissue, silver skin, and remove the muscle-on roast.

Prepare the Tenderloin

  • Since the tail of the tenderloin can be somewhat thinner, a good way to ensure even cooking is to fold it under and secure it with butcher’s twine. This will double up the thickness of the tail and allow it to cook more evenly across the tenderloin.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the dry rub ingredients to combine. Sprinkle the rub across the beef tenderloin pressing lightly with clean hands to help it adhere to the meat. Place the rubbed beef tenderloin in the refrigerator for at least two hours prior to lighting the grill. Smoking the beef tenderloin right away is ok, but sitting in the refrigerator for several hours allows the rub to penetrate the meat.

Fire Up the Grill For Smoking

  • Prepare the grill for indirect heat and preheat the grill to 250 degrees F. To maintain this low temperature, use only half as much charcoal as usual. (A half chimney-full.)

Slow Smoke The Prepared Beef Tenderloin

  • Remove the tenderloin from the refrigerator and place it on the cool side of the grill grate. Throw a chunk of cherry wood onto the bed of coals and slow smoke the tenderloin over indirect heat, with the lid closed.
    Smoke the tenderloin until an instant-read thermometer reads approximately 135 degrees F; about 45 minute to 1 hour. Then remove the beef tenderloin from the grill to rest.

Make A Herb Brush For Basting (Bouquet Garni)

  • Meanwhile, make the herb brush. You’ll need two long sprigs of rosemary and two long sprigs of thyme. Remove the last 4 to 5 inches of green needle-like leaves from the rosemary; discard or use for another time. Then gather the sprigs of thyme and rosemary together and tie it into a bundle along the woody stem of the rosemary with butcher’s twine. Set aside until needed.

Prepare the Garlic Butter

  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Smash the two cloves of garlic with the side of a chef’s knife, peel off the skin and add them to the melted butter. Simmer for about a minute, stirring the butter with the herb brush, until the butter becomes fragrant. Be careful not to get the butter too hot or it will burn and scorch the garlic. Turn off the heat and set aside until needed.

Reverse Sear The Smoked Tenderloin With Herbs & Garlic Butter

  • Prepare the grill for direct high heat grilling. Spread out the already hot charcoals and light up fresh hot charcoal.
  • When the charcoal is ready and the grill is hot, place the tenderloin back onto the hot grate. Have the herb brush and garlic butter warm and ready to go. Grill the beef tenderloin about 3 minutes on each side. Check the tenderloin with an instant-read thermometer often.
  • When the meat is about 138 degrees F, carefully dip the herb brush into the warm garlic butter and baste each side of the tenderloin. Use caution, as the butter will cause the flames to lick up high on the meat. Have the lid handy to help put out overpowering flames. (Grilling gloves are recommended.)
  • When the meat temperature is at 140 degrees F. Remove from the grill immediately. The carry over heat will bring the meat to the perfect doneness of 145 degrees F.
  • Place the meat on a carving board and allow it to rest at least 10 minutes. Perfectly smoked beef tenderloin will have a dark red center and be light pink on the outside.

Serve the Beef Tenderloin

  • To serve, carve the tenderloin into 1-inch-thick medallions. Serve warm or at room temperature. It's amazing any way you slice it!

Notes

Direct Heat: David mentioned that lighting up the charcoal chimney again would probably speed up the process, rather than throwing the new coals on top of the cooling charcoal bed.
Serving Smoked Beef Tenderloin: Serve the beef as is or with a Creamy Horseradish Sauce With Roasted Garlic, Honey Mustard BBQ Sauce, or sauce of your choice.
Recipe adapted from Vindulge.com

Nutrition

Calories: 698kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 42g | Fat: 57g | Saturated Fat: 25g | Cholesterol: 179mg | Sodium: 1276mg | Potassium: 725mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 249IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 6mg
Did you try this recipe? Tell us what you think!Give this recipe a star rating, leave a comment below and share pictures of your food with us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter! We can’t wait to see them! Don’t forget to mention @TheMountainKitchen or tag #TheMountainKitchen!
The Mountain Kitchen
Follow me


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *






This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Want FREE Recipes?

Join our mailing list to receive the latest recipes!

Subscription Options

You have Successfully Subscribed!