How to Brine a Beef Tenderloin

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Tenderloin is a lean cut of beef.
Tenderloin is a lean cut of beef. (Image: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Tenderloin, usually the most expensive cut of beef, is prized for its tenderness, but the meat itself lacks robust flavor and benefits from the heavy seasoning of a brine. Start with basic salt and seasonings, then try adding other aromatics like herbs, berries and chopped root veggies. Brining a whole tenderloin takes at least one full day, so plan ahead to achieve the juiciest tenderloin possible.

Things You'll Need

  • Large pot
  • Kosher salt
  • Brown sugar
  • Aromatics
  • Chopped root vegetables
  • Spoon
  • Large bowl or crock
  • Ice
  • Sharp knife
  • Kitchen twine (optional)
  • Plastic wrap
  • Meat thermometer

Bring about a quart of water to a boil. Add about a third of a cup of each of kosher salt and brown sugar. Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar, and add chopped root vegetables like carrots and onions. Stir in seasonings such as whole peppercorns, peeled garlic cloves, bay leaves or juniper berries.

Boil the brine for a couple of minutes then remove it from the stove. Put about a quart of ice cubes in a large bowl or crock, and pour the brine over the ice. While the brine is cooling, prepare the tenderloin by removing silver skin and gristle. Silver skin is the tough cartilage under the fat. Slip a sharp knife under one end of a piece of silver skin, and slide the knife between the meat and the cartilage. Tie the meat with kitchen twine, if necessary, to help it retain its shape during cooking.

Place the tenderloin in the crock or bowl with the brine, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 24 hours. If the brine doesn’t cover the tenderloin, turn it after 12 hours to submerge the other side.

Remove the tenderloin from the brine when you’re ready to cook it and throw away the brine. Roast the tenderloin in the oven or cook it on the grill until the internal temperature, read at the thickest part of the meat, registers 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tips & Warnings

  • The meat will continue to cook as it rests, and will reach the 145 F temperature recommended by the USDA.
  • Set the oven temperature to 475 F to roast the tenderloin. Grill the tenderloin over indirect heat by building a fire on, or lighting, one side of your barbecue and cooking the loin on the cooler side.
  • Tying the meat helps it to cook evenly, especially if you’ve purchased a tenderloin with the flat, narrow tail piece.
  • The brine must be cool before you add the beef or the tenderloin will begin to cook in the warm liquid.

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