You can prep this special treat in just 10 or 15 minutes then place it on your grill grate and let it go!
Slow and low at first with a short run of high heat at the end, this smoked tenderloin is the best thing I've made yet on my smoker. (According to my most honest critics - my teenage boys and spouse.)
Read on and I'll show you exactly how to make the best-smoked beef tenderloin you've ever tasted!
The secret to the best beef tenderloin
Today I'm showing you how to make a whole tenderloin on a pellet smoker. But you can make this lean cut of beef on your offset smoker, big green egg, or even by direct grilling over charcoal or with a gas grill.
The best-smoked beef tenderloin can be made in under 3 hours. This time includes the prep time, cook time, and 15 minutes at the end to let the meat rest.
In a nutshell, it all comes down to using simple seasoning as a dry rub and getting the proper internal temperature of the meat. The end result will look like this.
What's in this smoker recipe
The best thing about this smoked beef tenderloin recipe is how simple it is to make. Just a handful of ingredients and you're on your way to a delicious culinary experience!
Beef Tenderloin - This cylindrical shape beef is where filet mignon steaks come from and thus it is one of the most expensive cuts of meat. Therefore, you're going to want to make sure you're getting a good one.
If you're wondering how to pick out a beef tenderloin, it's pretty simple. keep the following tips in mind.
- Look for one that is deep red.
- You want one that is "tight." This just means that the meat is not stringy. A tight cut of beef will prevent you from having to use butcher's twine to hold it together.
- It's not necearry for it to be marbled. This is a very tender and lean cut of meat. (Which makes it an expensive cut of meat as well!)
The Seasoning - You can go as simple as kosher salt and ground black pepper. But we like to kick things up a bit. Some great ideas for seasoning a beef tenderloin can include:
- Montreal steak seasoning.
- Garlic powder and/or garlic salt.
- Fresh herbs are always a good option.
- Onion powder.
Bacon makes everything better! We like to make smoked beef tenderloin wrapped in bacon. It adds great flavor and keeps the meat from drying out during the smoking process.
Look for thin-cut bacon to wrap around this beef tenderloin before putting it on the grill. Read on and I'll show you exactly how to do this.
How to make smoked beef tenderloin on a Traeger
The great thing about this recipe is that you can use this same technique on any smoker using indirect heat. Follow the steps below and the end result will be a beef tenderloin roast with a rich flavor that will soon be a family favorite!
Before you do anything, take the whole tenderloin out of the fridge and let it sit to help get it closer to room temperature. Putting a cold piece of meat on a hot smoker is never a good idea. For food safety reasons, don't let it sit out for longer than an hour or so.
Before you season the meat, you're going to want to trim any silver skin from the meat. Here's a good video that shows you how to trim silver skin. You'll want to leave the rest of the meat intact as you'll be smoking the whole tenderloin.
While your meat is coming to room temperature, you'll want to do a few things. Ignite your smoker to an initial temperature of 185 degrees F. Next, you'll want to season the meat and wrap it in bacon.
- Sprinkle a generous amount of Montreal steak seasoning on the whole tenderloin.
- Wrap the bacon around the meat, slightly overlapping each slice. Tuck the ends of the bacon together to secure them.
- Sprinkle a good amount of garlic salt over the bacon.
- Add some paprika for a little bit of extra heat.
Variations and substitutions
If you want to make your own seasoning, you can use some olive oil and mix it all together in a small bowl.
You can also use a simple dry brine of salt and pepper while you're waiting to put the tenderloin on the smoker.
Instead of bacon, you can also use prosciutto which is a thin Italian ham. We do this when we make pork tenderloin on the smoker.
Of course, you don't have to wrap the meat in anything! It's delicious by itself (and maybe a little creamy horseradish sauce at the end.)
The cooking process
After you're finished prepping the meat and you have a hot grill, it's time to let your smoker do its magic.
- Use one of your sheet pans to transfer the whole beef tenderloin to your smoker.
- Place the meat on your the smoker grates and insert a temperature probe into the thickest part of the tenderloin.
Let the internal temperature of the meat get to 100° F. This will take about 2 hours.
When the internal temp of tenderloin reaches 100° F., remove the meat from the smoker and tent it with foil. Now, increase the temperature of the smoker to 400°F. When it reaches temp, put the meat back in the smoker.
Now, you're going leave the tenderloin on the smoker until it reaches an internal temperature of 125°. Remove the meat at this time. Then place it on a cutting board, tent it loosely with aluminum foil and let it rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing.
This will give you a medium-rare tenderloin. If you want it done a bit more, leave it on the smoker until it reaches 128° to 130° F, depending on how well done you like you beef.
Expert tips for smoking beef tenderloin
- If you're using a Traeger grill, turn on the super-smoke function if available.
- Use a smoke tube as shown.
- Place an aluminum pan under the grate to catch the drippings and grease from the bacon.
- Place the whole tenderloin on a stainless steel cooling wrack and place the wrack on the grates of your smoker. This makes it super easy to remove the meat when it is finished.
- Calibrate your temp probe per manuafacture instructions.
- Use a digital thermomter as a back up.
What to serve with this
The great thing about a smoked beef tenderloin is that it pairs with almost anything, depending on the occasion.
If this is a casual family dinner, you can't go wrong with mashed potatoes or our best macaroni and cheese, and maybe some homemade crusty bread. You can serve this with anything that would go well with prime rib.
This is a matter of personal preference. Many people like to use cherry wood or apple wood for a smoke flavor. My preference is hickory.
You can reverse sear this if you want but the bacon forms a nice crispy outer layer that gives the beef a perfect savory flavor.
More easy smoker recipes
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The BEST Smoked Beef Tenderloin
- 4 lbs beef tenderloin whole
- 1 lb. bacon thin sliced
- Montreal steak seasoning
- garlic salt
- Take the meat out of the refrigerator and allow it to rest at room temperature for about an hour. Meanwhile, preheat your smoker to 185° F.
- Season the beef generously with Montreal steak seasoning. Then wrap it in bacon. Slightly overlap each slice of bacon and tuck the ends in to secure. Then, apply a generous amount of garlic salt to the bacon. Finally, add a little paprika.
- Place the tenderloin on the grill grates and place a temp probe into the thickest part of the meat. Close the smoker cover and monitor the temperature of the meat.
- When the meat reaches an internal temperature of 100° F., remove it from the smoker and tent it with foil. Then, increase the temperature of the smoker to 400° F. When the smoker is at temp, place the meat back on the grates and cook to an internal temperature of 125° F.
- Remove the meat from the smoker, place it on a cutting board and allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing. Loosely tent it with aluminum foil while it rests.
- Use the super-smoker function on your smoker if you have one.
- For a better smoke flavor, use a smoke tube. They work great!
- Remove the meat from the smoker when you are increasing the heat to 400°. You want to avoid the "white smoke" while the smoker is getting to temp.
- Be sure to allow the meat to rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing.