Cast Iron Beef Tenderloin

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Roasting a whole beef tenderloin in a cast iron skillet is the best way to make tender and juicy beef that will melt in your mouth! You'll love the thyme and garlic herb crust that adds incredible flavor, as well as a horseradish thyme sauce that's the perfect compliment to this mouthwatering beef roast!

slices of beef tenderloin in a cast iron skillet.
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Why You'll Love It

  • easy recipe that makes the best beef tenderloin you've ever tasted!
  • special main dish that pairs well with a variety of side dishes
  • the most tender cut of beef that can be cut with a fork!
  • perfect for a dinner party or special occasion
  • best flavor from the dried herb crust and horseradish thyme sauce
  • uses only 5 ingredients!

What is Beef Tenderloin?

A beef tenderloin roast is located within the loin, and is actually a long, narrow and lean muscle. It's the most tender cut of beef you can find, but also an expensive cut of meat, which is why you need a foolproof recipe!

If you purchase a whole beef tenderloin roast, the fat may need to be trimmed before cooking if it hasn't been done already. You can ask your butcher to do this, or trim it yourself with a sharp knife. (ad)

You can find whole tenderloin in grocery stores and markets, especially during the holiday season when it's most popular. If you're lucky, you'll discover a deal at wholesale stores like Sam's Club or Costco. When I locate beef tenderloin on sale, I like to stock up, cut it in smaller pieces, and freeze for future use.

beef tenderloin after being roasted in cast iron skillet.

Why Cook Beef in a Cast Iron Skillet?

Cooking a whole tenderloin in a cast iron skillet will produce juicy meat on the inside and a lovely brown crust on the outside...every single time! Roasting beef at low and slow temperatures is easy to do in a cast iron skillet.

Cast iron does an excellent job of retaining heat, which helps brown the crust and seal in the flavor. What's the best part? You can sear, roast and serve...all in the same pan!

Recipe Highlights

This beef tenderloin recipe will yield the best results time after time. Whether you're making pan-seared steaks like filet mignon, or a whole roast in a cast iron skillet, you'll want to know that your Christmas dinner or special occasion will turn out fabulous!

That's why I recommend using the low and slow method to cook one of the most expensive cuts of meat available. Cooking at a low temperature is forgiving, and will allow more time to check the temperature of the beef so it doesn't overcook.

Our family loves this delicious beef recipe with its herb-crusted flavor! Everyone looks forward to Christmas Day when I serve this entree alongside Honey Mustard Brussels Sprouts and Twice Baked Potatoes. It's the perfect holiday or date night meal!

dinner plate with beef tenderloin, salad and potatoes.

Ingredient Notes

You'll only need 5 ingredients to make Cast Iron Skillet Beef Tenderloin! See recipe card for quantities and instructions.

  • whole beef tenderloin - trimmed, silver skin removed, cut in half
  • dried thyme - using dried thyme works better than fresh herbs in this recipe
  • garlic powder - enhances the flavor of the meat
  • sea salt - coarse salt that helps the beef tenderize
  • olive oil - add a little to the bottom of the skillet to prevent meat from sticking

Preparing the Meat

TRIM - Remove the silver skin and excess fat from the tenderloin if a butcher hasn't already done so. Use a sharp knife to carefully cut away fat and skin from the meat. Leaving some fat is okay, just trim what pulls away easily, but leave any fat that is holding the beef together.

meat being trimmed with a knife.

PAT DRY - Before adding the herbs and salt, pat roast with paper towels to remove excess moisture.

meat being patted with paper towels.

TIE - Wrap the smaller ends of the roast under the larger middle. Tie it up in several spots so it will cook more evenly. You don't have to tie it in a fancy way, just wrap kitchen twine around the meat and tie it with a knot. Cut off the excess twine.

SPRINKLE WITH HERBS - Sprinkle coarse sea salt over entire roast, including the ends. Follow with dried thyme and garlic powder. Press herbs down so they will stick to the meat.

beef in skillet before going into oven.

How to Cook Whole Beef Tenderloin in the Oven

SEAR - Add the beef to a large cast iron skillet and drizzle olive oil over the top. If you don't have a skillet, simply roast the tenderloin on a oven-safe rack over a sheet pan. Place in a 475ºF oven for 10 minutes to sear the meat, then lower the temperature to 300 degrees.

Option - If you'd like to make a reverse sear beef tenderloin, simply dry rub the meat at least 24 hours before cooking and save the searing process until after the meat has cooked. I have tried it both ways and prefer to sear the meat in the oven beforehand to avoid grease splatters on top of the stove.

beef tenderloin with dry rub on top.

ROAST IN OVEN - Cook roast uncovered in the oven at 300ºF. Check temperature with an instant-read thermometer every 10 minutes. If your roast is bigger or smaller the cooking time will vary. A small roast can reach 140 degrees in less than 30 minutes at 300ºF, so be sure to check the temp!

CHECK TEMPERATURE - Remember to cook to temperature, not to time. Use the temperature chart (below) as a guide. Take the roast out of oven when the temperature in the middle of the tenderloin reaches 5 to 10 degrees BELOW your desired doneness.

beef tenderloin after it has been roasted.

REST - Remove tenderloin from oven with tongs and place on a cutting board. Don't leave it in the skillet or it will continue to cook. There's no need to cover it with aluminum foil or it will sweat. Let it rest for at least 10 minutes before carving into 1 inch slices. *Remember to remove the twine before carving.

beef after being sliced in cast iron skillet.

How Long Does It Take to Cook Beef Tenderloin?

The time it takes to cook a whole roast depends on how large it is, what temperature you prefer, and what type of oven is used. The roast cooked in this recipe started at 55 degrees. At 10 minutes at 475º, it rose to 90ºF. After 20 minutes at 300º, it rose to 110ºF. At 30 minutes, it reached 140 degrees and was removed from the oven.

Always use a thermometer and check frequently to ensure the meat is not overcooked. It's better to undercook it and roast it longer than to go over on time and ruin an expensive piece of meat.

Temperature Guide

Follow the chart below to achieve your desired level of doneness and create the perfect beef tenderloin roast!

beef tenderloin temperature chart.

How to Make Horseradish Thyme Sauce

What You'll Need

  • sour cream
  • horseradish
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • garlic powder
  • sea salt
  • dried or fresh thyme

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Refrigerate until time to serve. See recipe card for quantities and instructions.

horseradish thyme sauce in a red bowl.

Recipe FAQS

What is silver skin?

Silver skin is a tough membrane that is usually found on the bottom of ribs or tenderloin meat. It can appear silver or white in color. You'll need to remove it because it can be chewy, which is a real turn off when you're eating a slice of expensive beef.

Do I need to add dry rub a day in advance?

If you want extra flavor, you can add the dry rub ahead of time and let the beef rest in the fridge overnight. However, the roast will still be delicious if you don't have time for this step. But, the extra time marinating in the refrigerator dries the outside of the meat, which helps it brown to the perfect crust.

Do I need to let meat rise to room temperature before roasting?

There are different opinions about this, but basically, you will be waiting a long time before a cold roast brought directly out of the refrigerator will rise to room temperature. In fact, it could take several hours which isn't safe. So, go ahead and cook the tenderloin when you're ready. Studies have shown that it won't make any difference if you wait.

What is the reverse sear method?

The reverse sear method cooks the beef first at a low temperature, then sears it at the end...which is the opposite of what most cooks do. Why is this method used? The process produces a slice of beef cooked consistently from edge to edge. It also creates a crispy brown crust after the meat has been dry brined with salt for 24 hours. If you want to try the reverse sear method, be sure to start at least 1 day in advance so the meat will have time to marinate in the refrigerator.

Variations

  • rub roast with dijon mustard, then use coarse black pepper and sea salt as a dry rub
  • add red wine to the pan drippings to make a lovely red wine sauce
  • sauté mushrooms and onions with soy sauce to serve on top of each slice of roast beef
  • roast in a pan on a wire rack, or in a dutch oven instead of using a large skillet

Storage and Freezing

If you want to make this recipe further ahead, it can be stored in the refrigerator up to 2 days before roasting.

Wrap leftover roast in aluminum foil and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

To reheat roast beef, wrap in aluminum foil and place in a 350 degree oven for 2 to 3 minutes, until the temperature is warm to the touch. Avoid cooking it too long or the meat will dry out.

A beef tenderloin roast can be easily frozen before cooking and thawed out later. If buying in bulk, cut some slices into filet mignon steaks as well. Use a vacuum sealer to prevent freezer burn. Freeze uncooked meat for up to 3 months and thaw in the refrigerator overnight before prepping.

beef tenderloin after it has been carved on a cutting board.

Foolproof Tips

  • sear meat in the oven to avoid grease splatters on top of the stove
  • cook meat until the internal temperature is 5 degrees below the desired doneness, then remove from oven
  • let meat rest for at least 10 minutes after roasting to redistribute the juices

What to Serve with Beef Tenderloin

Just about any side goes well with a delicious beef tenderloin. Try fresh vegetables like green beans, sweet potatoes, roasted broccoli or brussels sprouts.

Several types of mixed green salads are the perfect accompaniment such as Strawberry Pecan Salad or Roasted Chickpea Salad.

If you're planning to serve tenderloin at holidays and special occasions, pair it with Twice Baked Potatoes and Asparagus Puff Pastry Bundles for an upscale meal!

beef tenderloin in a cast iron skillet with green beans and mushrooms.

More Beef Recipes

Recipe Card

beef tenderloin and green beans in a black cast iron skillet.

Cast Iron Beef Tenderloin

Roasting a whole beef tenderloin in a cast iron skillet is the best way to make tender and juicy beef that will melt in your mouth!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course, Main Dishes
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 592kcal

*See notes in blog post for detailed tips, photos and instructions.

Ingredients

BEEF TENDERLOIN

  • 4 pounds whole beef tenderloin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil

HORSERADISH THYME SAUCE

  • 1 cup sour cream (full fat)
  • 1 Tablespoon prepared horseradish (use more if desired)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaaspoon dried thyme

Instructions

PREPARE THE MEAT

  • Trim - remove the silvers skin and excess fat from the tenderloin if a butcher has not done so already. Use a sharp knife to carefully cut away fat and silver skin from meat.
  • Pat Dry - Before adding the herbs and salt, pat roast with paper towels to remove excess moisture.
  • Tie - Wrap the smaller ends of the roast under the larger middle. Tie it up in several spots so it will cook more evenly. Cut off excess twine.
  • Sprinkle with Herbs - Sprinkle coarse sea salt over entire roast, including the ends. Follow with dried thyme and garlic powder. Press herbs down so they will stick to the meat.

ROAST IN OVEN

  • Sear - Add the beef to a large cast iron skillet and drizzle olive oil over the top. Place in a 475ºF oven for 10 minutes to sear the meat, then lower the temperature to 300 degrees.
  • Roast - Cook roast uncovered in the oven at 300ºF. Check temperature with an instant-read thermometer every 10 minutes. If your roast is bigger or smaller the cooking time will vary.
  • Check Temperature - Remember to cook to temperature, not to time. Take the roast out of oven when the temperature in the middle of the tenderloin reaches 5 to 10 degrees BELOW your desired doneness.
    beef tenderloin temperature chart.
  • Rest - Remove tenderloin from oven with tongs and place on a cutting board. There's no need to cover it with aluminum foil or it will sweat. Let it rest for at least 10 minutes before carving into 1 inch slices. *Remember to remove the twine before carving.

HORSERADISH THYME SAUCE

  • Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Refrigerate until time to serve alongside tenderloin slices.

Notes

  • It's easier to sear the meat in the oven to avoid grease splatters on top of the stove.
  • Cook meat until the internal temperature is 5 degrees below the desired doneness, then remove from oven.
  • Let meat rest for at least 10 minutes after roasting to redistribute the juices.
  • To reheat roast beef, wrap in aluminum foil and place in a 350 degree oven for 2 to 3 minutes, until the temperature is warm to the touch. Avoid cooking it too long or the meat will dry out.
  • A beef tenderloin roast can be easily frozen before cooking and thawed out later. If buying in bulk, cut some slices into filet mignon steaks as well. Use a vacuum sealer to prevent freezer burn. Freeze uncooked meat for up to 3 months and thaw in the refrigerator overnight before prepping.

Nutrition

Calories: 592kcal | Carbohydrates: 0.4g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 51g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Sodium: 402mg | Potassium: 684mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 0.01g | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 6mg

Nutrition info is an auto generated estimate.

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One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for this recipe! I've been wondering how to make this delicious beef tenderloin roast for special occasions. Now I know what to do!

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