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What is a beef tenderloin tail?

I noticed something new in the meat case at the local club store during a recent shopping trip…beef tenderloin tails!  I spoke with the staff and asked why they weren’t in the case regularly?  The meat clerk stated that they typically receive 2 types of beef tenderloin. One arrives trimmed or steak-ready and the other is received whole. Should they sell out of the steak-ready variety they will open the whole tenderloin to cut single filets from it. Since the thinner tails don’t yield a significant size steak the store merchandises them 2 in a package at a reduced price.  So… let this tale begin.

Save some cheddar on grilled beef tenderloin tails

At the reduced cost this appeared to be a pretty good deal to this old Grillin’ Fool. I’ve always tied 2 pork tenderloins together to achieve uniform size for even cooking and used that for the inspiration of this grilling recipe. It only seems natural to try it with beef, particularly since there is no way of cooking just one of these to a uniform doneness all the way through. No matter what, the tapered end will be much more done than the thick end even if the thick end is only cooked to medium rare. But with two, I can tie them together, fat end to skinny, and get medium rare all the way through.

Here’s what beef tenderloin tails look like in the package, on a cutting board with a pen to judge size and a picture of how thick the ends are:

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In the package
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In relation to an ink pen
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The thick end

Grilled Beef Tenderloin Tails Ingredients:

  • 2 beef tenderloin tails approximately 1.5-2 lbs
  • Olive oil
  • Your favorite steak rub
  • Salt (optional, depending on how much salt is in the steak rub)
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Ingredients sans oil

Beef Tenderloin Tail Preparation

The beef tenderloin tails are brought up to room temperature and tied together thin end to thick end to prepare them for the grill:

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Fat end to skinny
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Lash them together
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A liberal dusting of the rub is applied to the beef tenderloin:

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Hit it with the rub

Don’t forget the ends!

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Seasoned, ends and all

Lubed with olive oil and ready for the grill.

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How do you cook tenderloin tails?

The grill is set up for indirect cooking with coals on the left and the beef on the right and a grill temp between 275-300.

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Starting the Grill
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Coals hot and hickory ready to smoke

We will be reverse searing these steaks

That means we will be smoking the meat, bringing the temperature up slowly which allows for much more even cooking than subjecting the meat to intense heat immediately. Once we infuse the meat with that sultry smoke, we crank up the temp and give it a good sear. 

I enjoy a bit of hickory flavor with beef tenderloin. When I grill whole tenderloins, which are much thicker than this, I’ll include a mixture of cherry and hickory with the grilling recipe, but I’m going for a light smoke here. A heavier smoke would do an injustice to thinner tails in my opinion.

Put the beef tenderloin on the grill on the side with no coals to indirect/smoke for approximately 40-45 minutes:

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On the Grill

40-45 minutes is an approximation for that temperature and size of the meat. Both temp and size will vary, so look for an internal temperature of the meat to get to 120F-125F degree so that once we sear it, the beef tenderloin will be medium rare.

The lid is closed and I’m off to a search for an appropriate beverage to pair with this grilling recipe:

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Close the grill

Found one!

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Gary Farrell 2009 Pinot Noir

The beef tenderloin tails are looking good after 40 minutes. The rub has melded into the roasted meat:

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40 minutes in

I misplaced my thermometer so I’ll rely on the thumb test to check for doneness.  Note: the thumb test will be one finger or notch off when applied to beef tenderloin due to the tenderness of the cut so what feels like rare on most steaks is actually medium rare on a tenderloin/filet.

Now that the smoke flavor has been imparted on the beef tenderloin tails, It’s time to reverse-sear them to put on that glorious flavor crust which means the meat’s going over the heat. The proteins will caramelize and the rub will char adding multiple layers to the flavor profile:

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Onto the fire
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Getting crusty

The grilled beef is pulled to the cutting board then foiled to rest for 10 minutes.

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Off the heat
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Rats! Foiled again…

Why let it rest and for how long? When meat comes off the grill, the juices are in an excited state due to the heat. If you slice it right away then the juices will come rushing out. Letting the meat rest will allow the juices to calm down and redistribute throughout the cut of meat making sure every bite is juicy and delicious. And how long depends on the size of the meat. a steak should be rested for a couple minutes. For a bone in roast this big, rest for 10-12 minutes.

First slice!  What?  Is that a hint of pink?

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Love at first slice

Yeah baby!!

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Wouldja’ look at that!  I think that I nailed a perfect medium-rare!

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Medium Rare, possibly leaning toward Rare

Red meat, red wine!  I have my meal.

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Dinner, as they say, is served!

I’m not sure what Mimi is having.  Perhaps it is time for this tale of two tails to end.

How do you grill filet mignon tails?

Simply put, you lash them together fat end to skinny, and vice versa. Then season and smoke before finishing off with a sear. This gives oddly shaped cut an even cook and a wonderful smoky flavor. 

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them below or shoot me an email.

If you want any other steak recipes, click here

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Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Grilled Beef Tenderloin Tails

Grilled Beef Tenderloin Tails: save some serious coin on beef tenderloin and allow us to show you where to find these and how to grill them properly
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Entree
Cuisine: BBQ
Servings: 2 -4


  • 2 beef tenderloin tails approximately 1.5-2 lbs.
  • olive oil
  • your favorite beef or steak rub


  • Tie the beef tenderloin tails together, fat end to skinny and vice versa
  • Coat with the rub and a dose of the olive oil
  • Prepare the grill for two zone/indirect grilling with coals and smoke wood on one side and nothing on the other
  • Target temperature inside the grill is 300 degrees
  • Place the lashed together tenderloin tails over the side with no heat and close the lid
  • Smoke the meat until it reaches an internal temperature of 115-120 degrees then move over to the hot side of the grill to sear all the way around
  • Remove the grilled tenderloin tails from the grill and let rest for five minutes before slicing and serving


The times and temps in this recipe are for beef that is medium rare when plated. For more well done beef, leave the tenderloin tails on the side with no heat until they reach a higher internal temperature of say 135-140 degrees and then sear for a steak that is on the medium to medium well side.


Here’s a collage of the process:

Tenderloin Tails

Greg Thomas

Greg Thomas

Greg Thomas

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Grilled tenderloin like this is really good with sauces/butters…I usually do a gorgonzola butter and a chimichurri sauce. Delicious…this is a weekend after Thanksgiving tradition!!!



I love that idea and I LOVE that day after Thanksgiving tradition!


I’d like to cook tenderloin tails this way but I’m concerned about food borne illness. Part of the outside edge of the meat is now on the inside and will only be cooked to med-rare. Is this not an issue that I should be concerned about?


Caroline I think being concerned about food safety is always a good idea. I also think your concern should be minimal when it comes to the tenderloin cut. It is an interior muscle that does not come in contact with the exterior of the animal or with ground meat which is where contamination is more likely to occur. I usually give the tails a quick cold water rinse, pat dry, trim any excess fat or membrane, and then season for the grill. For your peace of mind I suggest keeping the beef refrigerated until time to grill.

5 stars
I had never even seen tenderloin “tails” until a couple of weeks ago! Your suggestion to tie the two of them together was brilliant! We grilled them on the Bog Green Egg and they were absolutely delicious! Thank you for sharing your technique.


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