How To Smoke A Beef Tenderloin

How To Smoke A Beef Tenderloin

Make the best charcoal or pellet grill beef tenderloin roast, with this easy to follow method for smoking and then reverse searing for a foolproof medium rare every time.

Whether you’re looking to impress your guests for the holidays or you just want to indulge in this beautiful culinary experience, creating a perfectly cooked beef tenderloin roast is truly worthwhile.

To master this method with such a large and expensive piece of meat can easily be done by first slow smoking and then reverse searing over direct, high heat for that signature crust you love on steak.

The reverse sear method is a great way to utilize indirect and direct heat. I’ve used this on my guide to making reversed seared ribeye steaks and it’s also my go to method on making grilled rack of lamb and even this smoked crispy onion crusted pork tenderloin too.

Learn everything you need to know to cook this indulgent cut of beef like a pro. Follow the guidelines outlined in this article below to guide you through preparations, the smoking process, all the way to that final sear. Let’s dive in!

Smoked beef tenderloin plated with mashed potatoes and caramelized onions

“School” Supplies:

“Class” Notes:

I work hard to thoroughly test all the recipes here at Bon Appeteach to help troubleshoot dishes as much as possible. While ingredients, brands, and appliances may vary, use the detailed notes below to help guide you through this recipe with ease. 

Feedback is always welcome and helpful to other cooks and readers. I’d love to hear from you, so please leave a rating on the recipe card or a comment regarding your experiences. Feel free to also share your creations or message me over on Instagram.

What is a beef tenderloin cut?

This is a higher end, lean cut of meat that is sandwiched between the sirloin and the top sirloin. The filet mignon comes from this portion of the whole beef tenderloin.

When you go to purchase a tenderloin, you can get it either fully broken down into the final piece used for smoking (also sometimes called the chateaubriand). This is a cut that has the chain, tails, and filet mignon steaks broken down from it with the center cut remaining.

If you choose to buy the whole tenderloin and break it down yourself, note that you can buy it either peeled or unpeeled. Unpeeled tenderloins have extra sinew and a lot of silver skin over the enter piece.

This requires a lot more time and skill to break it down, but you can often find them unpeeled or ask your butcher to do all of this for you.

Raw beef tenderloin roast

How do you prepare it for smoking?

When you’re working with a full prepped cut of beef tenderloin, you will have a long even center cut with tails on either end. Some people will fully remove these and use them for other uses.

I prefer to butterfly the ends by slicing them down with about 1/2 inch remaining and tuck them under the main part of the roast. This helps actually keep it more uniform in size and thickness while still utilizing all the meat.

In order to keep the tails tucked under the roast and to keep a nice round shape, you can tie the roast up with butchers twine. I do one long chain or you can tie individual pieces across the roast every 2-3 inches, spaced out.

Prepping your beef tenderloin with butchers twine

Once the twine is on, you have a few options. You can leave it uncovered in your fridge on a baking sheet for up to 5 days (almost like a short dry age) to encourage browning and a stronger, beef flavor.

Additionally, you can just coat lightly in olive oil, kosher salt, and cracked black peppercorns. Regardless, leave it out at room temperature for at least 30 minutes prior to placing it on your smoker.

Oiled and seasoned beef tenderloin resting before smoking

Setting up your smoker:

I used my Yoder 640s pellet grill for this recipe. I’ve also made this on my big green egg as well; both methods work great so use the smoker you love the best!

Set your grill for 225 degrees F and for indirect heat. If you have a charcoal smoker, you can set it for two zone cooking as well.

Add your favorite wood pellets or regular wood pieces to your smoker. I like hickory or a blend of woods. Once your temps are rolling steady, place your roast to slow smoke until the internal temperature reaches 115-120 degrees F.

Once it hits this point internally, you should remove the tenderloin to the baking sheet with tongs and set your smoker or grill up for searing while the roast can rest momentarily.

Pellet grilled beef tenderloin

How to reverse sear the beef tenderloin:

Here is the step by step process to follow to finish your beef tenderloin off with a delicious seared crust.

  • Heat your grill to high heat above 600 F.
  • Grease your grill grates as needed.
  • Place the tenderloin over direct heat and close the grill lid and cook one side for 60-90 seconds. Rotate the beef tenderloin and continue to cook it for a minute or so until the final internal temperature hits 130-135 F.
  • Place the tenderloin onto a cutting board to fully rest for 10-15 minutes to allow the juices to settle.
Reverse seared beef tenderloin
beef tenderloin with caramelized onion sauce
How To Smoke A Beef Tenderloin

How To Smoke A Beef Tenderloin

Make the best charcoal or pellet grill beef tenderloin roast, with this easy to follow method for smoking and then reverse searing for a foolproof medium rare every time.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Grilling
Cuisine: American
Keyword: How To Smoke A Beef Tenderloin
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Additional Time: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 809kcal
Author: Bon Appeteach



  • 1, 4-5 lb. Beef Tenderloin Fully trimmed and peeled
  • Kosher Salt
  • Cracked Black Pepper
  • 2 tbsp. Olive Oil


  • Read through the full article above and see the video for more details.

Beef Tenderloin Prep:

  • Begin by prepping your tenderloin. If it comes unpeeled and untrimmed, you will need to break it down. Remove the silver skin and sinew. Split the piece up by slicing off the chain so the tenderloin center cut (chateaubriand) and the tails are only intact. Ask your butcher to do this for you if you need to!
  • Take your cut and carefully butterfly the tails by slicing down at the thinner end, so only about 1/2 inch is connected. Take the tail and tuck it underneath the roast. This allows the roast to look uniform in size, cooks more evenly, and allows you to utilize more of the meat.
  • Add the twine and secure it every 2-3 inches to keep the roast a nice round shape.
  • Place it in the fridge, uncovered for 24-48 hours if desired. This helps intensify the beef flavor and allows it to brown better. You can skip this step however.
  • Before smoking, remove the roast and let it rest outside of the fridge for a 30 minute minimum before placing on the smoker. Lightly cover it all over with olive oil and season with the kosher salt and pepper.

Smoking Process:

  • Set you pellet or charcoal grill to 225 F. degrees for indirect heat.
  • Place your fully prepared and seasoned beef tenderloin onto your grill gates and place a thermometer into the center to keep and eye on your internal temperature.
  • Smoke the beef tenderloin roast until the middle reaches 115 F.-120 F. Then remove it from the smoker to rest briefly while you prepare it for the reverse sear.

Reverse Searing Steps

  • Preheat your grill to high heat for searing (I like to go at least 600 F. degrees). Grease your grill grates if needed.
  • Place your resting beef tenderloin onto the grill grates and sear each side for about 1 minute with the lid close. Rotate and sear the other side repeating the same steps.
  • Continue flipping and rotating your tenderloin until it hits your desired internal temperature. I like to remove the beef tenderloin when it's around 125-135 F. degrees depending on your preference. Remember there can be some carry over cooking after it's off the grill.

Serving and Slicing


If you're worried about trimming and prepping your beef tenderloin, ask your local butcher or grocer to do it for you!


Serving: 8g | Calories: 809kcal | Protein: 51g | Fat: 66g | Saturated Fat: 26g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 29g | Cholesterol: 198mg | Sodium: 139mg | Potassium: 862mg | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 7mg

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Recipe Rating

  1. 5 stars
    Oh my gosh, your tip for butterflying and tucking the thinner ends was perfect. Thank you for such a great recipe for grilled tenderloin!! We also made the red wine butter… insert chefs kiss!!!