What is your quintessential holiday meal? What do you usually have on your special occasions this time of year?
In our family, it was always beef.
A big beef roast, to be exact. Sometimes it was prime rib or a rib roast or even a beef tenderloin. We didn’t grow up eating a ton of red meat, so when beef was brought out, we knew it was for a special reason. Christmas dinner usually featured a fancy roast.
And until I was an adult, I was completely stumped on how to make one myself. It was something my parents always did and I don’t remember ever witnessing the magic happen. I was probably too busy playing with new toys as a kid or drinking festive cocktails with my sisters as an adult.
But magically, a beautiful roast graced our Christmas dinner table year after year.
I am happy to report that I have removed the mystique of roasting beef, and I promise you this: it’s not nearly as difficult as you may think. This recipe is my go-to beef tenderloin method. The only variation is how long you roast it for, and that depends solely on the size of your roast. That’s why using a meat thermometer is so imperative. It tells you when you’ve reached the desired internal temperature without any guessing.
Because let’s face it, a beef tenderloin is an INVESTMENT piece of meat. It costs a pretty penny. So I get the hesitation. I never want to screw it up either.
I promise you it’s easy, though! There’s a few key factors to making the perfect beef tenderloin.
The first being that you MUST let the beef come to room temperature before roasting. Take it out of the fridge for at least an hour before you put it in the oven. Roasting cold meat is not a good idea.
Speaking of the oven, that’s number two. You want a HOT oven. Crank it up to almost 500°F. This sears the meat on the outside, giving it that lovely golden brown crust in a relatively short amount of time, while keeping the inside of the roast pink and juicy.
Third, don’t overdo anything. Beef tenderloin is one of the most tender (hence the name!) and delicious cuts of meat you can buy, and it doesn’t need much. Don’t overcomplicate things! Salt, pepper, a touch of sugar (to help the outside caramelize), and some butter. That’s really all you need.
Don’t fuss over making a rub or a herb crust or anything like that. Keep it simple. Let the beef shine!
Instead of fussing over the beef itself, I like to make sauces or gravies to go on the side of the beef. That’s where you can kick things up a notch or two, infusing new and fun flavors to an otherwise standard (but insanely yummy!) piece of beef.
Today I’m giving you a red wine cranberry sauce to serve. It’s AWESOME with beef of any kind. Between the luxuriousness of the red wine and the bright and tart cranberries, it was meant to be. A little savory, a little sweet, and a little boozy. AKA, perfection.
I like to offer the sauce on the side, as I said, because not everyone wants something on their beef. My favorite accompaniment is a good creamy horseradish or mustard sauce, but even that is extra. When you’re working with such a beautiful piece of meat, less is more.
My last tip for perfect beef tenderloin: build in enough time for the meat to rest! The very last thing you want to do is slice this beauty as soon as it comes out of the oven. It needs a good 30 minutes of rest time, so that the juices have time to redistribute into the meat. While the actual cook time is 30 minutes or less, I’d say a good two-hour window of time is what is required to make beef tenderloin. You need to let it come to room temperature, roast time, and then rest time.
All are equally important factors!
Again, use that meat thermometer. Let it do all the hard work for you. Once the beef reaches the 120-125°F mark, take it out of the oven and tent it with foil. It will carry-over cook just a touch to get you to that perfect medium-rare point. Like your meat a little more well done? Add 5-10 minutes of roasting time. But ultimately, trust that thermometer! It will give you perfect beef every single time.
This meal is a showstopper. And it’s perfect for the holiday season!
Show stopping doesn’t mean stressful. At least it doesn’t have to!
You can do this.Print
This Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine Cranberry Sauce is a simple yet show-stopping way to impress your guests! This simple technique will yield perfectly succulent beef every time – it takes the guesswork out of an impressive roast! The red wine cranberry sauce is the perfect accompaniment and takes things to the next level!
For the Beef:
- 1 (6-lb) beef tenderloin roast, trimmed of excess fat
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 garlic cloves
For the Cranberry Sauce:
- 6 oz fresh or frozen cranberries
- ½ cup red wine
- ½ cup cranberry juice (or water)
- ⅓ cup honey
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Black pepper, to taste
For the Beef:
- Roughly 2 hours before you want to serve, take the tenderloin out of the fridge to sit at room temperature for an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 475°F.
- Place the tenderloin on a roasting rack set in a pan and pat it dry with paper towels.
- Liberally season it all over with the salt, pepper, and sugar. Don’t be shy! It NEEDS a lot of seasoning.
- Insert an oven-safe meat thermometer into the thickest part of the roast and then place in the hot oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the meat thermometer registers a temperature of 120-125°F. This will give you a perfectly medium-rare beef with a deep crust on the outside (it will cook more as it rests in the pan).
- While the beef is roasting, melt the butter in a small saucepan and add in the garlic cloves. Allow the garlic to steep in the warm butter.
- Remove the pan from the oven and immediately pour the garlic butter all over the beef. Tent the pan with foil and allow the roast to rest for at least 30 minutes.
- Slice and serve with the cranberry sauce on the side.
For the Cranberry Sauce:
- While the beef is roasting/resting, make the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a saucepan set over medium heat.
- Cook, stirring frequently, until the cranberries begin to burst and pop.
- Reduce the heat to low and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the sauce is thickened and the cranberries are very tender.
- Serve the sauce alongside the beef.
- Prep Time: 2 hours (mostly inactive)
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: meat
Keywords: beef tenderloin recipe, beef tenderloin roast, beef tenderloin, red wine cranberry sauce, homemade cranberry sauce recipe, holidays, special occasion meals, beef recipes