How long does it take to grill a filet mignon that measures 2 inches thick? Since this cut is both lean and pricey, the last thing you want is to overcook it. Here’s a primer on how to grill that precious steak to perfection.
How Long to Grill a 2-Inch Thick Filet Mignon?
Grilling a 2-inch thick filet mignon takes 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how rare you like your steak. It’s best to grill it over high heat for a few minutes per side, then continue cooking over indirect heat until it reaches the desired temp. You can also achieve this by slow-roasting the steak and then finishing it over high heat.
What is Filet Mignon?
Filet mignon is a French term, meaning “dainty fillet.” It’s called that because it’s a smaller cut that comes from a very lean section of the animal.
The filet is cut from the tenderloin, a cylindrical muscle that runs through the center of the loin primal. This primal stretches from the ribs to the sirloin, and doesn’t get a lot of exercise, so it’s very tender.
The tenderloin is especially soft in texture, as you might have guessed from the name. As such, the filet mignon—which is cut from the thinner portion of the muscle—is arguably the most tender cut on the cow.
Filet mignon is best when cooked rare to medium-rare. Since the meat is very lean, it will turn dry and tough if it’s overcooked. That’s the main reason why these steaks are typically cut at least 1-1/2 to 2 inches thick.
Some steak enthusiasts decry the filet mignon as lacking in flavor. While it doesn’t have as much beef flavor as fattier cuts like ribeye, you can offset the blandness by cooking it over an open fire. Adding a compound butter or rich sauce can work wonders as well.
How To Select a Good Filet Mignon
If you shop for steaks on a regular basis, you probably already know what to look for. Filet mignon is no different. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:
—Make sure the steak is of uniform thickness. If it’s not cut evenly, it won’t cook evenly either.
—Look for steaks that are a deep ruby red in color.
—The meat should be slightly moist, but not overly wet. When choosing prepackaged steaks, make sure there’s no liquid pooling in the bottom of the package.
Preparing and Seasoning the Steak
If there’s still silverskin and fat around the edges of the steak, trim that off now. Both will make the steak tough to chew once it’s cooked. Since you won’t be cooking the steaks long enough to render the fat, it’s better to get rid of it now.
Unlike some cuts, the filet mignon requires a light hand with the seasoning. Using fancy rubs with numerous herbs and spices will spoil the integrity of the steak.
Instead, opt for a coarsely ground salt, such as kosher or sea salt. Amplify the flavor with a few grinds of black pepper. You might need to add a thin layer of olive oil or bacon fat to help the seasonings adhere and enrich the flavor even further.
Preparing the Grill
Once the meat has been seasoned, it’s time to fire up the grill. You’ll need to let the grates preheat for a while before you add the steaks, but that’s fine—the meat should be allowed to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes anyway.
If you’re using a gas grill, let it preheat for 15 to 20 minutes. When cooking with charcoal, wait until the coals have turned a silvery-gray color.
For best results, create a two-zone fire. That means having an indirect heat zone on one side and a direct heat zone on the other.
With gas, you can achieve this simply by turning the burners on one side of the grill to medium-high while leaving the other side turned off. For a charcoal fire, add the coals to just one side of the grill.
As an aside, we should note that while we prefer the smoky flavor that a charcoal fire can provide, it’s fine to use a gas grill if you’re pressed for time. The instant gratification is hard to resist, especially for weeknight cooking.
How Long to Grill a 2-Inch Thick Filet Mignon?
The problem with grilling thick steaks is that the outsides can burn before the insides have cooked to the desired temperature. Fortunately, there are a few ways to get around this.
For steak that’s crisp on the outside and lusciously tender on the inside, you should sear the filets over high heat for a few minutes per side. After that, transfer them to the indirect heat zone so they can finish cooking without charring the exterior.
We would recommend grilling the steaks over the hot zone for 3 to 4 minutes per side for a total of 6 to 8 minutes. That should give them some nice grill marks and a nice crispy exterior.
After that, use your grilling tongs to move the steaks to the indirect heat zone. Let them continue to cook for an additional 8 minutes for rare, or 10-15 minutes for medium-rare. If you’d prefer your steak cooked to medium, let it cook for another 20 minutes.
Use an instant-read thermometer to gauge the internal temperature of the steak. At 115 degrees, the meat is considered “blue-rare.” An internal temp of 120 to 130 indicates rare steak, while 130 to 135 degrees is considered medium-rare.
We don’t recommend cooking filet mignon past medium-rare. But if you’d like to cook it to medium, try not to let the temperature climb past the 140-degree mark.
If you don’t want to bother with a two-zone fire, you can always reverse-sear the steaks by roasting them at 250 degrees until they’re 10 degrees below your target temperature, then finishing them quickly on the grill. This should take 20 to 25 minutes.
Let the steaks rest for 5 minutes before serving.
The Bottom Line
Grilling thick steaks takes some time and effort, but the results are well worth it. You’ll be rewarded with a juicy and elegant steak that practically melts in your mouth—and isn’t that every griller’s dream?
Best of luck, and happy grilling!