If you look “indulgence” up in the encyclopedia, you’ll find a picture of filet mignon — or, at least, it wouldn’t be surprising if you did!
This ultra-tender cut of beef is the poster child of gourmet food for a reason. It’s buttery smooth and perfectly flavored, making it a staple at special occasions and lavish dinners.
But filet mignon isn’t just for fancy entrees. Believe it or not, it also makes some of the best beef jerky you’ll ever eat.
Curious to learn more? Read on to see why filet mignon beef jerky is so irresistible — and find out how to make your very own.
Filet Mignon Basics: A Luxurious Lowdown
What Is Filet Mignon?
Filet mignon is a prized cut of beef that comes from the front of the tenderloin, a muscle located in the cow’s ribcage.
Its name was given by the French: filet means strip, and mignon means pretty and small.
And indeed, it’s one of the smallest and prettiest cuts of beef. Because the muscle isn’t load-bearing, it remains petite and smooth, unlike the tougher and bulkier muscles from the round or flank.
Those features are also what make filet mignon so revered by steak lovers. A properly-prepared filet mignon steak is so tender it can be cut with a fork, and it practically melts in your mouth as you eat it.
Why Is Filet Mignon So Expensive?
Take a trip to the butcher, and you’ll see that filet mignon is the most expensive cut of beef you can buy.
And you don’t get a ton of meat for the money, either — filet mignon steaks are just a few inches in diameter, downright puny compared to most other cuts.
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Because the Best Jerky Doesn't Come from a Store
The high price and small size go hand in hand: because filet mignon comes from the very tip of the tenderloin, you get very little of it from each cow. This scarcity makes it more valuable, commanding a higher price.
But as we’re about to see, that higher price tag is well worth it.
Filet Mignon Beef Jerky: How to Make It — and Why You Should
Why Does Filet Mignon Make Such Good Beef Jerky?
Beef jerky fans tend to fall into one of two camps: those who like their jerky tough and chewy and those who prefer a more tender bite and smoother texture.
If you belong to the former category, filet mignon jerky might not be for you. But if you’re in the latter camp, you may find that filet mignon jerky is the best you’ve ever had.
Few other cuts can make such silky, tender jerky. It feels like butter on the tongue, practically melting in your mouth while still retaining its succulence.
And filet mignon is also very easy to work with when making jerky. It’s lean, so there’s generally very little excess fat or tendons to trim, and its understated flavor makes it a great vessel for all kinds of delicious marinades.
Is Filet Mignon Jerky Healthier than Other Beef Jerky?
Filet mignon has a very similar nutrition profile to other beef, but there are a few subtle differences.
It’s slightly higher in calories than the typical jerky cuts, such as eye of round or top round. 4 ounces of raw filet mignon contain 170 calories, while 4 ounces of raw eye of round contain 130 calories.
And though filet mignon is less fatty overall than many other cuts, a higher percentage of that fat is saturated.
For instance, filet mignon has 7.5 grams of total fat versus sirloin’s 8 grams, but both filet mignon and sirloin contain 3 grams of saturated fat per 4 ounces raw. So while filet mignon appears less fatty at first, it’s still relatively high in harmful saturated fat.
However, filet mignon is among the more protein-rich cuts available, with 26 grams per 4 ounces versus eye of round’s 25 grams or flank’s 23 grams.
How Should I Prepare Filet Mignon for Beef Jerky?
Prepping filet mignon for beef jerky isn’t much different than prepping other cuts. However, there are a couple of tricks that can make preparation easier — and your finished jerky tastier.
Freeze Your Filet Mignon Before Slicing It for Jerky
The appeal of filet mignon is its tenderness, but that tenderness can present problems when you’re trying to cut jerky slices.
It’s so soft that it can give way too easily under your knife, making it difficult to slice it thinly and evenly.
You can remedy this by freezing your filet mignon for just an hour or two before slicing it. Just wrap it up or bag it, then stick it in the freezer until it’s firm but not rock-solid.
This brief stay in the freezer makes filet mignon just a little tougher for just a little while, giving you the perfect opportunity to slice it without a struggle.
Use the Sharpest Knife Possible to Slice Your Filet Mignon
The other secret to getting those perfect filet mignon jerky slices is making sure your knife is freshly sharpened.
Sure, a dull knife will still be able to cut filet mignon — after all, it’s so tender you could cut it with a fork if you wanted to. But your cuts may come out sloppy and uneven, and your jerky may dehydrate unevenly as a result.
Using a nice, sharp knife will ensure that each slice is just the right thickness. And it’ll also reduce your risk of a knife accident no matter what you’re making, so play it safe and get that knife sharpened!
Experiment with Seasonings and Marinades for Your Filet Mignon Jerky
Many common jerky cuts have a bold, meaty flavor that demands all the attention and can drown out the flavors imparted by a marinade.
But filet mignon’s delicate palate makes it a great canvas for experimenting with marinades, rubs, and other seasonings. And the right ingredients can create a transcendent jerky experience, making you feel like you’re eating filet mignon at the fanciest restaurant in Paris.
A Little Beer Goes a Long Way…
A tablespoon or two of beer can make a great addition to your standard beef jerky marinade, especially if you’re using filet mignon. Try a hoppy IPA to add an earthy note to your jerky or a dark imperial stout to impart a subtle yet rich maltiness.
…Or Try Some Wine Instead
If you want to add complexity to your jerky but you’re not into beer, a wine-based marinade for your filet mignon jerky may be just what you’re looking for. Use white wine for a sweet, bright flavor, or try red wine for a classic taste that’ll instantly transport you to your favorite steakhouse.
Don’t Be Afraid to Spice It Up
A bit of spice really brings out the delicate flavors of filet mignon while adding excitement in its own right. Black peppercorns are always a favorite, but you can also try Sichuan peppercorns for an Asian twist, jalapeno slices for a garden-fresh kick, or ghost pepper hot sauce if you’re feeling especially adventurous!
What is a Filet Mignon? (Video)
"You might be a redneck if you think that beef jerky and moon pies are two of the major food groups."
-- Jeff Foxworthy