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How to Trim a Whole Beef Tenderloin


The holidays are upon us and for many people, this is the one time they fix a whole beef tenderloin.  Roasting a whole tenderloin is super simple to do, but most people skip the actual preparation of trimming the tenderloin, which they leave to their butcher.  This usually makes the tenderloin more expensive to buy. Learning to trim it properly yourself can be a big savings and is easy to do.  I'm going to give you step-by-step photos to show you how. 

I bought this beef tenderloin at Sam's Club for $11.58 per pound. I checked some prices this week - my local Meijer sells them for $24.99/pound, another local small butcher is selling them for $19.99 per pound and my local Whole Foods is selling them for $29.99.  My local Kroger has them for $18.99 per pound.  And it's common for them to be even cheaper, on sale, at this time of year. Most places will charge extra for trimming and some grocers won't trim them at all.  Of course, the quality of beef is going to differ, but I've bought whole beef tenderloins from Sam's Club and they have been delicious.  

This particular tenderloin was 8 pounds, untrimmed.  The trimmings I threw away weighed just a little over a pound.  So when calculating how much meat to buy, you need to take this into consideration.

The tenderloin is covered with fat and silver skin, both of which need to be removed. There is also a "chain" of meat that runs down one side and is easily removed.  This chain contains a lot of fat but also has some good meat.  I usually remove as much fat as I can from the chain and keep that meat for ground meat or kabobs.  It freezes well.

The fat on the tenderloin is easily removed with your fingers and a knife.  The silver skin is the part that takes the most time in removing.  It encases the meat and has to be removed with a very sharp knife, removing as little meat as you can.  Some people do not bother to remove this silver skin, but I think the meat is nicer without it. 

The tenderloin has a thick end (the head or "butt" end) and then a tapered end that is much thinner.  If you want all the meat to be medium rare when cooked, tuck this thin end underneath to try to even out the width. I don't do this because there is a person in our family (who shall go unnamed) who prefers more well done meat. When I cook the whole tenderloin laid out, I get a variety of rare, medium rare and more well done pieces, all for the same cooking time. I slice the tenderloin and  lay out all the pieces and people can choose what they like. It works out well.

The large "butt" end of the tenderloin has a piece that you can either leave attached (see photos) or cutt off and freeze for another use.  Depending on the size of your tenderloin, this piece usually is around a pound of meat.  So if you don't need that much meat, it's a great piece to freeze for later for two people.  

Some people will tie up the tenderloin before roasting. I don't bother.  You can certainly tie it up with kitchen twine if you like, to even out the roast.  You can also cut the tenderloin into separate steaks to roast or grill. 

Roasting a beef tenderloin is a breeze.  You can marinate the meat or not (this is my marinade) but either way, you need to at least season the meat with pepper or Montreal steak seasoning and plenty of sea salt.  Then just place in a large roasting pan with a rack or, if you don't have that, line a baking sheet with heavy duty foil, set a rack on that and place the tenderloin on the rack.  There are a number of ways to roast it - you can sear it first in a pan and then pop it in the oven or just roast it completely in the oven.  You can roast it on high heat for a short period of time like Ina Garten does (500 degrees F. about 25 minutes) or you can roast it on lower heat for a longer period of time (like I do).  I roast mine about 375 degrees for around 30 - 35 minutes (depending on the size of the tenderloin) until the meat is about 125 degrees.  Then I remove from the oven and let it rest, uncovered, for a few minutes before slicing.  The internal temperature will continue to rise a little.  Medium rare is 130 - 135 degrees F. Serving it with some horseradish sauce is nice. 















I hope these step-by-step photos are helpful to you and that you see how simple a process this is and have the confidence to try it yourself!

Have a great holiday, everyone and see you in 2017!

Thanks for stopping by,

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Reader Comments (15)

I really love your whole blog - it's set up beautifully, so thank you, abd happy holidays!

December 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLeslye lang

This is great information. When i was in France we were taught much the same although they never threw any part away but found a use for it all. I am forwarding this to a friend as she has ordered a tenderloin for New years dinner.

Thank You ever so much. I love your Blog!

December 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara Macey

You are really amazing. I love your blog. It is so informative. You don't leave anything out. Thank you for all of your information and taking the time to show us how to do things. I'm thinking of having a beef tenderloin for Christmas this year because of your blog.

December 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMaryann

Very helpful Elaine, for those who haven't any restaurant experience.

December 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Ambrosino

Your tutorial is great! My Honey taught me how to trim meat -- when he was in high school he worked in the butcher department at the A and P. Many years ago!!! I'm fortunate because he still does the meat cutting although I could do it, if necessary. Your photos are great! Have a wonderful week.

December 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMarisa Franca @ All Our Way

What a coincidence! I just found this the very day I had to trim my beef tenderloin. After trimming, I have a segment for a roast for 12-14, 3/4 pound bag of tournedos for a special dinner for 2, and enough stir-fry meat for 6. Not bad. Thanks for the photos; they were very helpful.

December 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSusanamantha

From The Italian Dish:

Leslye: Barbara, Maryann: Thank you so much for your kind comments. Have a wonderful holiday!

December 12, 2016 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

From The Italian Dish:

Joe, Marisa, Susanamantha: Thank you and I hope the photos were helpful!

December 12, 2016 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

This is terrific. Thank you

December 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKim K

Thank you for all the wonderful recipes and advice. Everything I have made is food except the Vanilla. It turned out way to weak, even though later, after I found it was so weak...I added twice the amount of Vanilla Beans. Every you give the recipe for is great.
Thank you,
Betty in San Diego, Ca.

December 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBetty Jackson

I've been buying my USDA prime tenderloin at Costco and, despite the fact it costs the same as a week's worth of groceries, it's absolutely wonderful. I'm not too bad at removing the silver skin but the "chain" and extra pieces was completely new to me. Thanks so much for this and all the other wonderful hints and recipes throughout the year. Merry Christmas!

December 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPeg.Erbes

There's just nothing better than a good beef tenderloin. I've never trimmed mine before. Thanks for the info!!! I saw that one person commented on the vanilla being too weak. I've made several batches using your recipe and it was always perfect?? Blessings from Missouri beautiful lady! Merry Christmas!!!

December 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRobbin

From The Italian Dish:

Betty: How long did you let the vanilla steep? You need to let it sit for almost 2 months before it has the intense vanilla flavor.

Peg: Glad my post could help! Don't throw away the chain meat!

Robbin: Thank you and Merry Christmas to you!

December 13, 2016 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I have to say my family and I were lucky enough to enjoy this for Christmas dinner. It was absolutely the best tasting steak I have EVER had!!! I never eat that much meat in one sitting ( although I love steak) but it was just amazing....! I can't wait to cook this for my boys before break is over.
Elaine makes everything easy to understand, which makes me excited to try her recipes, and if it's from Aunt Elaine's recipes, my boys are very excited!!! 10 out 10. FOR SURE!

December 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMichele McCardel

Thank you for sharing this! I am confident in all my cooking skills except for cutting meat. :) One of my desires is to go to butchery school. Beautiful blog! :)

January 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie

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