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Perfect beef tenderloin: your secret weapon for an impressive holiday dinner

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Relax, it's actually hard to screw up beef tenderloin

Fall is in the air, and the holidays are right around the corner. For us foodies, this can only mean one thing — more opportunities to eat the red meat we love. Beef tenderloin is one of the best cuts you can master to make a pricey splurge on really good beef totally worthwhile. And while it sounds intimidating, roasted beef tenderloin is pretty hard to mess up.

The key is to keep it simple and let the meat speak for itself. Beef tenderloin is a perfect example of how good, quality ingredients prepared simply make for something that is really special. For a special occasion or holiday dinner, think about preparing a delicious meal of beef tenderloin, roasted Brussels sprouts, potato gratin, and a simple salad. It sounds and tastes like a gourmet dinner, but it's really not that hard to make.

More: 20 holiday foods perfect for gift-giving

This roast is delicious as is or with a sauce of your choosing. And leftovers are spectacular for things like lunchtime sandwiches or a steak salad. Or just plain snacking — for us, not a scrap is wasted.

Perfect beef tenderloin recipe

Serves 8


  • 1 (4 to 5 pound) beef tenderloin roast, preferably trimmed
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon or so rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon or so thyme
  • Olive oil
  • Butcher's twine


  1. The day before serving, examine your tenderloin and trim off any excess fat or tendons. Using a mortar and pestle, grind together the garlic, salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme, using a little olive oil to smooth it along. Rub this mixture all over the tenderloin. Cover and refrigerate 24 hours.
  2. Remove the tenderloin from the refrigerator an hour before roasting and let it come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Tie up the tenderloin such that it is even in thickness, tucking up the thinner tail if necessary. Insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the roast and place in a shallow roasting pan.
  4. Roast 35 to 45 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 120 degrees F. Loosely cover with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving. And that's it. You're done! Slice and serve.

More: How to make steak with chimichurri like an Argentine steakhouse chef

And the perfect side dish for beef tenderloin? You guessed it... Brussels sprouts.

Relax, it's actually hard to screw up beef tenderloin
Image: julie clancy/Moment/Getty Images

Balsamic roasted Brussels sprouts recipe

Serves 6


  • 1-1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced lengthwise
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place the Brussels sprouts in a baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and vinegar and toss the sprouts around.
  3. Repeat with the olive oil.
  4. Roast for 30 minutes, tossing several times during the cooking process. Sprinkle on a little more kosher salt just before serving.

More: 11 ways to get anyone to love roasted Brussels sprouts (INFOGRAPHIC)

Originally published December 2008. Updated October 2016.

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