Perhaps the most common steak question I get is “How long should I cook Filet Mignon?”
The short, but likely inaccurate answer, is “about 10-12 minutes”.
However, the real answer, is a bit more complicated. The question is not a simple one…nor does it have a simple answer. In reality, how long you should cook your filet mignon depends on a number of factors, many of which are unique to your preferences, your filet, and even to your specific kitchen, stove, grill, and pan. The reality is, each time you cook a filet, the cooking time could be materially different. Fortunately, if you learn the fundamentals that drive cooking time, if you practice (i.e. cook) a little bit, and if you use some of the simple tools of the trade, you’ll figure out how long to cook each filet thrown your way. Follow the advice below, and you’ll be well on your way!
How Long do you Cook Filet Mignon
Let’s start at the end. Most filet mignon lovers are looking for two things:
- A crispy golden brown outside that has a crunchy texture, and salty beefy flavor
- A tender, juicy center cooked to their preferred temperature – between rare and well done
To get the crispy crust, it’s best to use direct heat (a hot pan or grill), and it’s easy to visually tell when you have that crust established. But, that same heat does a poor job of getting the filet’s center to the proper doneness. So, you’ll want to use in-direct heat (like an oven) to cook the filet through to where you want it. And it’s impossible to visually tell how cooked the filet is on the inside.
How do you want your Filet cooked?
I like to cook filet mignon to medium rare…but I’m not going to judge you, if you want it cooked differently. However that is, it helps to know what internal temperature corresponds to what level of done-ness. So here you go:
- Rare Filet mignon: ~120 degrees
- Medium Rare: ~130 degrees
- Medium: ~140 degrees
- Medium Well: ~150 degrees
- Well Done: ~160 degrees
So, now we know two things. First, we want to use direct heat to get a crisp crust on the outside. And second, we want to use indirect heat to bring the internal temperature up to the desired doneness.
Time is the Critical Variable
I like to start my filet mignon on a very hot pan or grill. About 3 minutes on each side to create that crust, without burning the steak. And that 3 minute time, is going to work whether the filet is thick or thin.
However, once it’s seared, you vary the cooking time (with the indirect heat of an oven or closed grill) until the internal temp reaches the desired level. A thin filet mignon, will likely have an internal temperature of 130 right after searing both sides. If you want it med-rare, you’d take it immediately off the heat.
But a thick filet mignon will still be raw in the center, needed more time to reach medium-rare, and even longer to get to medium or well-done. The time will also vary depending on the temperature of your oven or grill.
As a general rule, I plan on the internal temperature of the filet increasing about 10 degrees for every 3 – 4 minutes in the oven. But, the safest, most accurate way to tell if you’re filet has cooked long enough is to use an instant read meat thermometer.
And remember, once cooked, make sure to let the steak rest for 5 minutes before serving!