How to Grill-Roast a Perfect Whole Beef Tenderloin

The secret of how to grill whole beef tenderloin perfectly—well seared, juicy, and fully cooked—is all in the timing; brining, glazes, and sauces add extra flavor.

In theory, a whole beef tenderloin is the perfect cut for grilling. It’s dressy enough to be served at an elegant dinner party, yet casual enough for weeknight supper. It’s substantial enough to be treated like red meat, yet mild enough to stand in for chicken or fish. It’s economical, healthy, readily available. Even its small size is attractive—except when you try to cook it. From my experience, tenderloin is just a little too small to be treated like a roast and a little too big to be treated like a steak. What do you think? Most people have their own ways of cooking their meat, and have learned from their parents or other people the best way to cook it. You could have so many different preferences all in one room of people. So it goes to show, that there are definitely many different ways to go about cooking meat.

Usually guys who like their tenderloin will be able to tell you how to get the best cooked meat, and they can tell you just how they do it. While its great to have some guidance, you have to find what you like the best! So play around with the different ways and try different things out until you find something you love.

Anyway, over the years I have taken it upon me to perfect this dish and I think I’ve finally got it. First, you need to create that perfect sear or crust. After much experimentation, I’ve concluded that grilling tenderloin in a covered gas grill solves the problem. (I rarely go to the trouble to light a charcoal fire for two tenderloins, but you can of course use this method with charcoal). A gas grill heated to high with the lid down can effectively cook a pork tenderloin directly (like a steak) and indirectly (like a roast) simultaneously.

After the grill has been preheated for ten minutes, seven minutes is all it takes to fully sear the tenderloins with appetizing grill marks. Since the second side has already started to cook, it doesn’t take as long to sear as the first side. In fact, if left for the same amount of time, it would start to char, and we don't want that, do we? So the second side should look the same as the first side in just six minutes.

And most important – Don’t forget to keep things juicy! With the help and advice of my awesome chef friends, I’ve learned that soaking your tenderloin in a salt-sugar brine helps immensely when it comes to locking in all that flavor and juiciness. And lastly, for a knockout presentation, make a quick sauce or a colorful salsa to top your tenderloin. Its Summer afterall, go on and get grilling. And now you know how to do it with perfection every time! For the full recipe, visit the 'Serious Eats' website.

Learn MORE / Get RECIPE at Serious Eats


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