Smoked Beef Tenderloin adds the best flavor and an impressive crust to an already melt-in-your-mouth, fork-tender, whole tenderloin! Slice the whole roast into medallions and serve for special occasions!
This easy smoked tenderloin recipe literally only takes a few minutes of hands-on time and it’s still impressive! It’s our go-to for pretty much every holiday season!
Prime rib is a staple for Christmas dinner, but once you try making a beef tenderloin on the smoker you’re going to fall in love with it! We used to be in the prime rib camp, and don’t get me wrong, I still love prime rib.
But, cooking a prime rib can be intimidating and I really think that cooking a whole tenderloin is so much easier! This smoker recipe turns out every single time! It’s tender, flavorful, and one of my favorite cuts of beef!
A beef tenderloin roast also cooks faster which is a big deal if you’re the one cooking on Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter. Yes, we do serve beef tenderloin for Thanksgiving (it’s the best thing) and pretty much every other special occasion and holiday dinner!
Besides that, making a Traeger beef tenderloin means you’ll have extra room for baking parmesan garlic rolls, make ahead mashed potatoes, roasting green beans, and baking all the other sides in the oven while the meat cooks away on the grill!
It’s a great way to handle all the stress that goes with prepping any holiday meal!
Why This Recipe Works:
A tenderloin is a really high-quality and expensive cut of meat. If you’re making that kind of investment it has to impress! This recipe is foolproof! It’s what I make myself for my birthday!
- Simple ingredients: A tenderloin is an expensive cut of meat so it’s one of those recipes I save for a special treat! Besides buying a beef tenderloin roast you’ll need simple ingredients. Plus, I’ve got lots of suggestions for substitutions.
- Simple instructions: This recipe is so easy! The most important thing you need to do is monitor the temperature of the meat with a meat thermometer. There is very little prep time.
- Tender and flavorful: Tenderloin is naturally the most tender cut of beef. It’s known for being able to cut with a fork. Adding a dry rub gives it the best flavor and the smoking process adds a rich flavor! Using the reverse sear method locks in the juices.
What is Beef Tenderloin:
A beef tenderloin is cut from the loin section of the cow. It’s an area that doesn’t get used very much which makes it an extra lean cut of beef yet it’s still tender.
There is only a small percentage of the cow that is this tender and that’s why it’s one of the most expensive cuts of meat.
Whole beef tenderloin is called by different names including butt tenderloin, filet mignon roast, center cut beef tenderloin, or full tenderloin roast.
Different parts of the whole roast are also called different things.
- Chateaubriand is the center-cut beef tenderloin part and is typically used to make a tenderloin roast.
- Tenderloin roasts, sometimes called filet mignon roast, can be cut into individual steaks, also called filet mignon steaks.
- Tenderloin tails are the skinny, tapered end of the roast. They are fantastic made into Beef Tenderloin Tips with Mushroom Gravy!
- The tenderloin butt is the thickest part of the tenderloin
If you’re smoking the whole tenderloin roast you’ll want to fold the tail and tie it with butcher’s twine so it’s an even thickness.
Thinner meat will cook faster than the thicker part of meat. Or, cut the tenderloin tail off and save it for making Tenderloin Tips later on!
I love using fresh garlic and rosemary when it’s in season or when I’m in town and can grab it from the store. Since they’re not always available I’m giving you tips on how to substitute with pantry staples. It will still give you great flavor!
If you want a recipe that only uses a handful of ingredients substitute an all-purpose beef rub for the spices in this recipe. It’s a great thing to do if you want a simple seasoning on the meat.
See the notes section of the recipe card for exact amounts and a full list of ingredients.
- Tenderloin: You can buy prime or choice grade of roast. Prime will be more money. I always buy a choice grade and it’s great! I love buying it from the local butcher or Sam’s Club or Costco. One of my local grocery stores also has it on sale around Christmas time and Valentine’s Day. I like to stock up and put it in my freezer for making later.
- Garlic Cloves: If you don’t have fresh garlic use garlic powder or garlic paste is a great option.
- Fresh Rosemary: You can also use dried rosemary leaves (fresh herbs are best because they’re flavorful and pretty for Christmas)
- Peppercorns: You can use coarse black pepper.
- Kosher salt: This really is the best salt for grilling.
What are the Best Woods for Smoking Tenderloin:
This particular smoked beef tenderloin recipe doesn’t require a long smoke time even though we’re smoking at a lower temperature. We can use strong wood flavors and they won’t overpower the flavor of the beef.
Using a low temperature makes it a slow smoke. Here’s a list of the best woods depending on what flavor you’re after.
For a bold smoky flavor use
For a milder smoke flavor use
- Applewood (sweeter)
I always use a pellet grill or pellet smoker instead of a smoker that uses wood chips or a gas grill. I really want to buy a Big Green Egg and practice using wood chunks.
Making beef tenderloin on a pellet grill is so easy that I haven’t tried the other methods yet!
How to Smoke a Beef Tenderloin:
This is such an easy recipe! Don’t let the fact that it’s an 8-step process intimidate you! They’re all easy steps. I wanted to completely explain each step so it will be perfect every time!
My advice is to invest in a meat thermometer that you can leave in the meat and it will read the temperature without lifting the lid. I also use an instant-read thermometer to make sure it’s the temperature I like best. Once you start to use temperature probes you’ll never go back! It’s the trick to smoking beef tenderloin, grilled chicken, and pretty much any other meat!
Step 1: Make a beef rub in a food processor or blender. Process peppercorns until coarse. Add garlic and rosemary leaves (only the leaves) and process until the garlic is minced. Add salt and process again. If you don’t have a food processor you can put the peppercorns in a plastic bag and whack them with a rolling pin to coarsely crush them then mix them with other herbs in a small bowl.
Step 2: Trim excess fat from the tenderloin being careful to not trim the meat off. If there is any silver skin or connective tissue trim it off. We’re going to smoke the center cut of the tenderloin because it’s the most uniform. If you’re going to do a smoked whole beef tenderloin, tuck the skinny tail under the center part and tie it with butchers twine. Or, cut the tail and the butt end of the roast off and save them for later.
Step 3: Rub the tenderloin with olive oil. Evenly, sprinkle the prepared rub over the tenderloin.
Step 4: Tightly wrap the tenderloin in plastic wrap and refrigerate the tenderloin for 1-2 hours. If you rub the beef too early it the flavors of the rub can overpower the meat.
Step 5: Remove the tenderloin from the fridge. Let sit at room temperature while you preheat the smoker to 250° Fahrenheit.
Step 6: Put the beef loin on the smoker and cook until the internal temperature reaches 15 degrees less than the desired doneness temperature (120° F for medium rare, which is my favorite). Be sure to check the center of the roast for temperature. Remove meat from the smoker and tent it with aluminum foil. Adjust cook time to your preference.
Step 7: After removing the meat from the smoker, turn the heat on the smoker/grill to 450 degrees (or high heat). It needs to get screaming hot so we can start the reverse searing process and create a nice crust. Once the temperature of the smoker is heated to high heat, add the tenderloin back to the smoker on the hot grill grates for direct grilling. Cook for a couple of minutes on each side. Take the meat off the grill grate and set it on a cutting board when the piece of meat is 5-10 degrees under the desired doneness temperature because the cooking process will continue for a bit after you take them off the grill and the internal temperature of the meat will keep rising. Watch it closely because you don’t want it to overcook! It usually takes about 2-3 minutes per side.
Depending on the size of the roast this will typically take between 45-60 minutes. The best way to monitor the temperature is to buy a temperature probe that you can read outside of the smoker so you don’t have to lift the lid. I like to double-check the temperature with my digital thermometer.
Step 8: Wrap the tenderloin with aluminum foil and let the meat rest for 5 minutes while it rises to its final temperature. To add extra beefy flavor save any juices that collect in the foil and drizzle over the sliced meat. Slice and serve with garlic herb butter! Trust me! It’s the thing to do!
If you want to reverse sear the tenderloin in a cast iron skillet you totally can! Bring the skillet to almost high heat. Add a little bit of olive oil to the pan. Add the smoked tenderloin and sear for a couple of minutes on each side.
For smoking at 250 degrees plan on 15 minutes per pound of meat. You’ll also need to allow for about 4-6 minutes of searing time. And, 5 minutes of resting time. The total time will vary depending on how big the piece of meat is.
Be sure you’re checking the internal temp of tenderloin because the center will be a lower temp than the outside.
Rare: 125 degrees.
Medium rare: 135 degrees (This is the most common doneness temperature for smoked tenderloin roast)
Medium: 145 degrees
Medium Well: 150 degrees
Well done: 160 degrees
A process called reverse searing is best for smoked tenderloin. First, smoke a tenderloin at a low temperature. Then reverse sear it at a high temperature to lock in the juices and create a crust on the beef.
Best Sides for Tenderloin:
- Smashed Red Potatoes
- Slow Cooker Corn Casserole
- Salad with Homemade French Dressing
- Maple Glazed Carrots
- Bacon and Peas
Smoked Beef Tenderloin
- 3 pounds beef tenderloin
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 Tablespoon peppercorns (see note)
- 1 clove garlic (see note)
- 1 1/2 Tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves (see note)
- Make a beef rub in a food processor or blender. Process peppercorns until coarse. Add garlic and rosemary leaves (only the leaves) and process until the garlic is minced. Add salt and process again. Set aside. (see note below if you don't have a food processor)
- Trim excess fat from the tenderloin being careful to not trim the meat off. If there is any silver skin trim it off. We're going to smoke the center cut of the tenderloin because it's the most uniform. If you bought a whole tenderloin cut the tail (the skinny part) and the butt end of the roast off. Save them for later. (If you want to cook the whole tenderloin you'll need to tie it off to keep it even. See post for details)
- Rub the tenderloin with olive oil. Evenly, sprinkle the prepared rub over the tenderloin.
- Tightly wrap the tenderloin in plastic wrap and refrigerate the tenderloin for 1-2 hours.
- Remove the tenderloin from the fridge and let sit at room temperature while you preheat the smoker to 250° Fahrenheit.
- Put the tenderloin on the smoker and cook until the internal temperature reaches 120° F, which is medium rare. Remove from the smoker and tent with foil. Depending on the size of the roast this will typically take between 45-60 minutes. The best way to monitor the temperature is to buy a temperature probe that you can read outside of the smoker so you don't have to lift the lid. I like to double check the temperature with my instant-read thermometer.
- After removing the meat from the smoker, turn the heat on the smoker on the smoker/grill to 450 degrees (or high heat). It needs to get screaming hot so we can reverse-sear the tenderloin.
- As soon as the smoker is to high heat add the tenderloin back to the grill grates. cook for a couple of minutes on each side. I recommend pulling the steaks off the grill when they are 5-10 degrees under the desired doneness temperature. Watch it close because you don't want it to overcook! It usually takes about 2-3 minutes per side. The temperature of the steaks will rise about 5 degrees while they rest. I highly recommend between medium rare and medium, which is a finished temperature of 130 degrees, so remove from the grill at about 125°.
- Wrap the tenderloin with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Save any juices that collect in the foil and drizzle over the sliced meat. Slice and serve with garlic herb butter! Trust me! It's the thing to do!
- Peppercorns: Use 1 Tablespoon of course black pepper
- Fresh Rosemary: Use 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried rosemary leaves
- Garlic Clove: Use 2 teaspoons of garlic powder, or 2 teaspoons of garlic paste.