Smoked Beef Tenderloin 

This prized cut is tender, flavorful and sure to impress your dinner guests.
smoked whole beef tenderloin

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If you really want to impress your guests, try smoking a whole beef tenderloin. What you end up with is smokey, tender beef, that’s melt-in-your-mouth good. 

Although it may look a little intimidating, it’s really not. In this recipe, I will show you how to trim a whole beef tenderloin, smoke it, slice it, and serve it so you can do this at home with confidence. 

Smoked Whole Beef Tenderloin

Ingredients you’ll need 

  • Beef tenderloin
  • Binder – Olive oil or Worcestershire sauce
  • Seasoning – salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  • Baste – butter and garlic.

Equipment you’ll need

What is a beef tenderloin?

The three main cuts of the tenderloin are the butt, the center cut, and the tail. Sometimes you will see the chain attached, which is the muscle that runs alongside the filet.

What you’ve probably had before is a filet mignon, which is basically a steak cut from the tenderloin. 

You can smoke the entire tenderloin as is, but I prefer using the center cut as you get a better presentation and more even cook.

I like to trim the ends and use them for roasts.  The prized section is the center cut, also known as the chateaubriand, and is the most tender and flavorful. 

How to trim beef tenderloin

The beef tenderloin I used was from Snake River Farms and was pre-trimmed. Most tenderloins will require some trimming, though.

smoke river farm beef tenderloin

Lay your tenderloin out on a cutting board and pull away any of the loose fat or silver skin with your hands.

untrimmed piece of beef tenderloin

Then run your fingers along the side to locate the chain which is a muscle that runs alongside the tenderloin.

Pull it apart with your hands and run a sharp knife along it until it’s completely separated. 

trimmed piece of beef tenderloin

Trim the silver skin off the top of the tenderloin by running your knife underneath and pulling away.

Finally, cut the butt and the tail off. You can use these as roast, cube up for stir fry or make skewers

Beef tenderloin cut into 3 pieces

How to make Smoked Beef Tenderloin

1. Tie

I like to tie butcher’s twine around the meat every 3-4″ so it holds its shape while cooking.

raw beef tenderloin tied with string before cook
While it’s not completely necessary to tie, it does make for a better presentation. 

2. Season

Apply a good coat of binder. Olive oil is usually my go-to, but for this cook, I used Worcestershire sauce.

Season it with a generous amount of salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

seasoned whole beef tenderloin on a wooden board
 Don’t be afraid to season it well. It’s a big piece of meat and will need it. 

Let the beef come to room temperature and allow the seasoning to penetrate into the meat.

Bringing the steak up to room temp will also relax the muscle fibers in the beef and help ensure a nice, even cook. 

3. Fire up the smoker 

Heat your smoker to 250°F.

For this cook I used my PK360 grill with pecan wood.

chimney starter sitting on the grill
grill with lit charcoal banked up to one side

I set up my grill with charcoal banked on one side, adjusted the vents to dial in the temperature, and added the tenderloin to the opposite side once I got good clean smoke running through the grill. 

4. The cook

Place your tenderloin on the opposite side of the charcoal for indirect heat.

tenderloin on indirect heat side of grill

During the smoking process, I flip the tenderloin once or twice to ensure it cooks evenly.

Baste the tenderloin with the garlic butter a few times to add a little extra flavor and moisture.

tenderloin being basted while on the grill

I recommend serving the tenderloin medium rare, which is between 125-135°F.

Once the tenderloin reaches an internal temperature of 125°F degrees, ramp up the heat and sear it for a few minutes over the direct heat to get a nice crust.

whole beef tenderloin on grill being turned with tongs
whole beef tenderloin on grill being turned with tongs

Remember that while the tenderloin rests, it will continue to cook another 5-10 degrees.

5. Resting 

Because beef tenderloin is a large cut of meat, proper rest is crucial at the end of cooking.

I recommend resting the tenderloin for 20-30 minutes to let the meat relax, and the internal juices redistribute to the center. 

I place the tenderloin onto a wire rack and loosely tent foil on top. 

6. Serving

Slice the tenderloin into 1″ thick medallions and if needed add a little Kosher salt to finish.

beef tenderloin plated with mashed potato and asparagus
I served mine with some bbq asparagus, mashed potatoes, and horseradish sauce. It came out incredible! 

Sides for beef tenderloin

smoked whole beef tenderloin

Smoked Beef Tenderloin 

The center cut of the beef tenderloin is seasoned, basted, and smoked over indirect heat.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Resting Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 50 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 486kcal
Author: Jordan Hanger


  • 4 lb beef tenderloin
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp salt, pepper and garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp butter unsalted and melted
  • 2 tbsp garlic paste or minced
  • Horseradish sauce to serve


  • Heat your smoker to 250℉ and set it up for indirect cooking.
  • Trim the beef tenderloin by removing the chain, silver skin, butt, and tail, until you are left with the center cut (see details above).
  • To preserve the shape of the tenderloin, tie butcher's twine around the beef every 3-4 inches.
  • Brush the whole tenderloin with Worcestershire sauce, and season with a blend of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Rest while your grill comes up to temperature.
  • Place tenderloin on the grill. Rotate one or twice during cook to ensure even cooking.
  • Once the tenderloin reaches an internal temperature of 100°F, start basting with garlic butter. Do this a few times before you reach searing temperature.
  • Once the tenderloin reaches 125°F, sear over direct heat for a couple of minutes, making sure to rotate the beef to sear all sides.
  • Remove the tenderloin from the grill and place on a wire rack to rest with a little foil tent on top. Let the beef rest for 20-30 minutes before slicing.
  • Slice tenderloin against the grain into 1" thick medallions. Serve with horseradish cream sauce and your favorite sides.

Garlic butter baste

  • Mix the butter and garlic together until well combined.


What wood should I use to smoke with? We used Pecan.
Do I need to tie the tenderloin? No, it just helps it keep its shape while cooking and, presentation-wise looks better.
We recommend serving your beef medium rare, which is between 125-135°F. Keep in mind while the tenderloin rests, it will continue to cook another 5-10 degrees.
Do I need to rest the tenderloin once cooked? Because beef tenderloin is a large cut of meat, proper rest is crucial. We recommend resting the tenderloin for 20-30 minutes to let the meat relax and the internal juices redistribute to the center.


Calories: 486kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 39g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 16g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 121mg | Sodium: 150mg | Potassium: 579mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 263IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 102mg | Iron: 6mg
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