How to Smoke a Whole Beef Tenderloin


Need an impressive dish in a hurry? Smoke a whole beef tenderloin. Yes, this cut is expensive, but it’s quick and easy to prepare, and it brings most beef addicts to immediate intoxication.

But you can’t smoke beef tenderloin the way you would brisket or other tough, fattier cuts. Tenderloin demands a sizzling crust with a blood-rare or medium-rare center. Enter the so-called reverse sear method where you partially cook the beef by slow-smoking at a low temperature, then finish it over a screaming hot fire. (Conventionally, tenderloins were first seared, then finished over lower heat, resulting in meat recognizable by a grey ring of overcooked meat on the outer periphery.)

Ideally, you’ll have a dual function smoker that both smokes and grills. But if you don’t, Steven’s included workarounds in the recipe.

You’ll also need a reliable remote thermometer or instant-read meat thermometer.

One of Steven’s favorite accompaniments is Three Hots Horseradish Sauce. A simple compound butter is also good: Simply blend 8 tablespoons of salted butter with 2 ounces of your favorite blue cheese (crumbled) and chopped fresh chives, scallions, or parsley. The blue cheese enhances the flavor of the meat, making it taste beefier.

How to Smoke a Whole Beef Tenderloin

Here are other tips for smoking beef tenderloin success:

  • Save money by trimming a whole beef tenderloin (preferably grass-fed or organic) for yourself.
  • Trim any visible fat or silverskin (a tough, whitish sheath on the outside of the muscle) with a flexible knife before smoking.
  • A beef tenderloin is comprised of the parts: head, center, and tail (the thinnest part). Tie the head into a compact cylinder with butcher’s string. (The slender tail cooks faster than the rest of the tenderloin, so unless you like that section well done, fold under the last 5 inches and tie this section to the center.)
  • To maintain its shape, tie the tenderloin at 1 1/2-inch intervals with butcher’s string. Remove the strings before serving, of course.
  • Season the meat generously with coarse salt (smoked salt is a good choice) and freshly ground black pepper by sprinkling the spices from a height of several inches.
  • Because the meat is allowed to rest for several minutes between smoking and searing, there is no need to rest it a second time.

Read more: Smoke-Roasted Beef Tenderloin

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