Christmas Dinner Beef Tenderloin Roast

Recipe Pin
3 hours 20 minutes
10 servings

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Christmas Dinner Beef Tenderloin Roast is a one pot meal that’s BIG ON FLAVOR with tender beef and buttery baby potatoes. For A Full List of Everything Christmas, Check Out My Post with Links to A Complete Holiday Menu and Menu Ideas...A Southern Christmas Dinner Menu & Southern Christmas Recipe Ideas

A cooked roast tenderloin on a cutting board, with a knife.

With gratitude and appreciation, this recipe is adapted from our Friends at America’s Test Kitchen

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Should I Sear A Beef Tenderloin Roast Before Roasting?

How’d you like a tenderloin recipe where there was a whole lot less fuss while preparing the meat, but an end product that looks and tastes like you slaved through every step? Thanks to our good friends over at America’s Test Kitchen, such a recipe does in fact exist! Their super-secret ingredient? Baking soda.

A traditional method of preparation for good cuts of beef involves searing the meat before cooking it. Searing helps red meat to retain its moisture by “locking in the juices” as the meat roasts. In this method, baking soda alleviates the need for a messy and clumsy sear to a BIG cut of meat. How? Baking soda raises the Ph level in the meat which encourages browning and the development of a beautiful crust.

Featured image 2 for Creamed Pearl Onions Recipe.
Pictured alongside my Beef Tenderloin Roast are Southern Mashed Potatoes with A Parmesan Crust and Creamed Pearled Onions.

Christmas Dinner Beef Tenderloin Roast

All traditions have to start somewhere. The formality that is Christmas Eve, and a beautiful beef tenderloin, roasted low and slow to a perfect medium rare temperature, has Santa wishing he was getting more than just a plate of cookies…

I guess you could say I started it based on something my grandmother told me about her childhood and growing up. Despite the Depression, her dad, my great-grandfather, always managed to provide the family with a beef roast for great-grandma to prepare for Christmas.

When she told me, it made me a little sad and a lot of happy all at the same time.
To think there was a time that it was that hard to get but knowing that now it is so easy for me to do for her just clicked. So, it was then, about ten years before her death, that I began the Christmas Dinner Beef Tenderloin Roast tradition.

Hands tying off a side of beef with twine.

Do You Have What’s Needed to Make This Christmas Dinner Beef Tenderloin Roast? Check The List!

  • 3-lb highest quality cut beef tenderloin roast
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Baking soda
  • Olive oil
  • Baby red potatoes
  • Scallions
  • Fresh garlic cloves
  • Smoked paprika

Optional Ingredient: Aleppo pepper

How This Recipe Came About…

Christmas Day is all about a big old pancake, bacon and scrambled eggs breakfast while still in pajamas, and an early, less formal dinner consisting of some types of fishes and seafood, and almost always a pasta.

In between, the snacking endures, cookie pilfering behind my mother’s back being the biggest misdeed. It is an unorganized day, spent largely searching for correct sized batteries for new gizmos to operate, naps, reminiscing, and lots of good food.

But the formality that is Christmas Eve, and a beautiful beef tenderloin, roasted low and slow to a perfect medium rare temperature, has Santa wishing he was getting more than just a plate of cookies…

Starting with a great cut of beef, the addition of a few simple seasonings, and allowing for a one-hour room temperature pre-cook rest, will yield an outcome so incredible, you will earn bragging rights even before you know how you did it. 

Woman smiling holding a roasting pan with a side of beef.

Beef tenderloin roasts are a near perfect solution for a crowd who would otherwise all want their steaks cooked differently. Tenderloins are typically uneven in shape and weight from end to center to end.

Despite requiring a few ‘alterations’ to promote even cooking, the ends usually finish a firm medium, an inner cut a medium rare, and the center of the roast rare. Allowing the meat to rest tented tightly under foil for 20 minutes following the cook, allows the juices to redistribute and the meat to be delicately fork tender.

Top with some of the pan sauce in the pan and a dollop of Whipped Horseradish Cream when you get ready to serve.

a cooked roast tenderloin on a cutting board, with a knife

How To Make A Beef Tenderloin Roast?

The flavor of horseradish will absolutely elevate the roast. Starting with a great cut of beef, the addition of a few simple seasonings, and a one-hour room temperature pre-cook rest, will yield an outcome so incredible.

This Christmas Dinner Beef Tenderloin Roast will earn you bragging rights even before you know how you did it. I’d be remiss if I did not mention the secret ingredient behind how a cut of beef of this size cooked low and slow, can actually achieve browning.

Baking soda.

a raw beef roast in a pan, with ties

Coupled with a salt rub and a pre-cook hour long rest, the beef has time to uniformly allocate moisture throughout and to retain that moisture during the cook. If not allowed the hour-long pre-cook rest and roasting too soon after salting, the results will assuredly offer a dry piece of meat, so planning ahead to give the salt enough time to work its magic is crucial.

The preparation for this roast could not be easier – bloom the aromatics, sauté the potatoes in those aromatics for a few minutes, then lay your trimmed and tied tenderloin atop. A low and slow uncovered roast is ready for a crowd in not so many hours…

a cooked roast tenderloin on a cutting board, with a knife

Planning ahead so enough time is guaranteed for this recipe is crucial…

You will 100% need an instant read meat thermometer and kitchen twine for this method. To accompany this beautiful roast, we’ll prepare baby red potatoes. These make for filling and buttery side to our tenderloin. The baby reds are creamy and sweet in flavor, and really maintain their shape during the cook. They will cleverly act as a base for the roast in the method.

Alternatively, use a rack insert, omitting the potatoes. I do this when I prefer to make a different potato dish other than the baby reds. Add about 3/4 cup of water to the bottom of the roasted pan so drippings do not stick or burn.

Because this recipe is hands-off once it’s in the oven, concentrating on your family and guests can be your focus…unless you have side dishes to make…oh the side dishes

A whole beef tenderloin roast on a cutting board being sliced.

Christmas Dinner Beef Tenderloin Roast

Jenny DeRemer
This beef tenderloin roast is the star of any Christmas dinner, offering a succulent, melt-in-your-mouth experience. This easy-to-follow recipe ensures a beautiful presentation and a deliciously memorable meal, making your holiday dinner both stress-free and spectacular.
4.54 from 41 votes
Servings: 10 servings
Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Resting Time 20 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 10 servings
Calories 516 kcal

Equipment

  • meat rack if NOT using potatoes
  • digital meat thermometer

Ingredients
 

  • 3 pounds beef tenderloin roast Prime or highest quality you can afford
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons salt divided
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper divided
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil

Variation: Adding Potatoes

  • 3 pounds baby red potatoes washed and patted dry
  • 5 large scallions chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika use sweet or hot or a combination of both
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ to ¾ cups water
  • 1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper optional; for added smoke, heat, and sweetness

Instructions
 

  • Rinse and pat the beef dry. Remove any silver skin if necessary. Combine 2 1/4 teaspoons Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and the baking soda and stir together. Liberally coat the roast all over including the ends with the seasoning.
  • Using 10" lengths of kitchen twine, begin tying off the roast directly in the center. Tie every 1 1/2" inches working your way outward from center to end to end. If an end is very thin, bend it back and tuck it alongside the roast, securing with the twine. You want the overall look of the roast to be equal from end to end, and the twine will aid in the even cooking. Snip off any long pieces of twine after tying and discard.
  • Allow roast to sit at room temperature for at least one hour for the salt to equitably draw, then redistribute moisture throughout the roast.
  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Place a meat rack into the roasting pan. Brush the roast with a tablespoon of olive oil and place the roast directly on top of the rack. No part of the roast should be touching the roasting pan. Load the roasting pan into the fully preheated oven and set the timer for 5 minutes. When 5 minutes is up, lower temperature to 300°F.
  • Roast for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the roast registers at 130°F for medium rare. Do not open the oven door during the roast all but for turning the roasting pan halfway through cooking to promote even doneness.
  • Once the beef has reached the temperature you desire, remove from oven and wrap the roast in foil for 20 minutes so the juices can redistribute. Do not skip this step. Remove the ties with kitchen shears and discard. Slice in 1/2" slices and arrange on a pretty platter. Serve with Whipped Horseradish Cream if desired.

Variation: Adding Potatoes

  • In a roasting pan over a stove top burner, bloom the aromatics by first heating 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the scallions, garlic, smoked paprika, Aleppo pepper (if using), and 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Stir until fragrant.
  • Add the potatoes whole and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. As fond begins to build up on the bottom of the roasting pan, turn off the heat and add the water into the roasting pan, scraping the bits of fond to loosen. Place the potato mixture into the oven for 15 minutes uncovered.
  • Remove the potatoes from the oven. Reduce heat to 300°F. Stir and gather the potatoes into the middle of the roasting pan.
  • Brush the beef with a tablespoon of olive oil and place the roast directly on top of the potatoes. No part of the roast should be touching the roasting pan.
  • Place back into the oven for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the roast registers between 130°F and 135°F for medium rare. Do not open the oven door during the roast all but for turning the roasting pan halfway through cooking to promote even doneness.
  • Remove the roast and potatoes from the oven and turn off the heat. Wrap the roast and tent the potatoes in foil for 20 minutes so the juices can redistribute. Do not skip this step. Remove the ties with kitchen shears and discard. Slice in 1/2" slices and arrange on a pretty platter alongside the potatoes. Serve with Whipped Horseradish Cream if desired.

Notes

If You prefer More Well-done Sections of Roast, test your ends first. If more time is needed, read the temperature every 6 minutes.
Ovens Vary Widely – use a meat thermometer to gauge temperature accurately.
  • 120°F to 130°F – Rare
  • 130°F to 135°F – Medium Rare
  • 135°F to 145°F – Medium
  • 145°F to 155°F – Medium Well
  • 155°F and Up – Well

The nutrition value can vary depending on what product(s) you use. The information below is an estimate. Always use a calorie counter you are familiar with.

Please note that table salt and iodized salt are NOT substitutions for Kosher salt. Do not deviate unless otherwise specified.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 516kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 28gFat: 34gSaturated Fat: 13gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 95mgSodium: 857mgPotassium: 1107mgFiber: 3gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 718IUVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 40mgIron: 5mg
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Recipe Rating




22 Comments

    1. Dylan, no. The baking soda does the job of browning the beef while the salt keeps it perfectly juicy IF you do as I instruct with seasoning it and allowing it to sit on your counter for at least one full hour. Let me know how you enjoy it 😊 Jenny

  1. Your recipe indicates that the potatoes go into the oven uncovered, but does the tenderloin bake uncovered as well?

    Many thanks!

    1. Peggy, great question and the answer is yes. All uncovered. Low temp and exposure will get you that gorgeous browning you see in all of my photos 🙂 x – Jenny

  2. Excited to try this for our Christmas Eve dinner! Do you think a cast iron skillet to work in place of a roasting pan? If so, would you recommend any changes to the potato roasting and/or resting time (as it retains heat for longer than a normal pan)?5 stars

    1. Michelle, glad you asked this question! I have done this before and it worked, BUT…your cast iron must be BIG. At no time can the meat touch any part of the pan. That said, the remainder of the recipe is exactly the same. I do recall adding slightly more water to my cast iron, about 3/4-cups because I was worried about my potatoes sticking and burning. I do not know if the water helped, however they did not stick, and did not burn. Do not go by the pan or the notion that the cook time must be different due to the retention of heat. All of what you said is true, however use your instant read thermometer to test for doneness. 125°F for rare to medium rare is your base temperature. Don’t go by the pan. PLEASE let me know how this turns out for you! I am dying to see pics if you’re proud of the masterpiece you’re about to create! x – Jenny

      1. Bob, GREAT QUESTION! Yes! The caveat; you must perform a rotation if not two during the roast. Let me explain.

        If using two separate pans, rotate twice; once left to right, the other each pan back to front. If using only one pan, just perform a standard rotation. Every oven has a sweet spot and rotating TWO roasts will help with even cooking.

        Remember, 125 for rare in the absolute dead center of each roast. Work your way with the instant read thermometer out to the left and right respectively for more well-done temps. YOU control where each one ends in terms of doneness.

        Let me know how it goes and by golly, send pics!!! x – Jenny

  3. Congratulations, your post is featured on Full Plate Thursday, 619 this week. Thanks so much for sharing with us and hope you have a very Merry Christmas!
    Miz Helen5 stars

    1. HELEN!!! Thank you!!! Merry Christmas, friend, and looking forward to 2023 with you and the Country Cottage 🙂 Jenny

  4. We love beef tenderloin on Christmas day as well. I never heard the baking soda trick and I’m so glad you shared it! I cannot wait to try it! Have a Merry Christmas Jenny!5 stars

    1. Stacie!!! You’ve been on my mind – how have you been? Thank you so much for this kind comment. I hope you do make the roast and I hope you ultimately LOVE IT. I cannot take credit, as America’s Test Kitchen/Cooks Country were the ones to shed light on the baking soda hack. I just ended up running with it! Merry Christmas, Stacie and let’s plan to compare notes in the new year! x – Jenny

  5. We are hosting 16 people on Christmas Eve. I will be making this roast. I “test drove” this recipe over the weekend and it came out AMAZING! I bought a very large roast (6 lbs!) from Costco and cut it into 2 separate roasts. If we get extra eaters, I’ll be ready! I will also be doing your creamed onions and southern mashed potatoes in lieu of the potatoes in with the roast. Do I need a rack if I want to roast without the potatoes?5 stars

    1. Elisabeth, I’m glad you loved it! DO try the creamed pearl onions. DO try the southern parmesan crusted mashed potatoes! And yes, you DO NEED a rack if you do not use the potatoes. Follow the recipe exactly, omitting the aromatics and potatoes. Place the beef roast on a rack in a roasting pan. Look for a minimum temp of 125°F to 130°F for medium rare, longer if you want it more done. PLEASE let me know how it turns out and how your guests enjoy it! X – Jenny

  6. How long would you recommend cooking if you were doing a 1.5 lb beef tenderloin? Following the exact same directions but unclear on what the cooking time would be.5 stars

    1. Kristen, do not go by time, go by temperature. You must have an instant read thermometer for this method, as it alone will be the tool you’ll use to gauge doneness, not the clock. What I would recommend, would be to begin testing for doneness at 50 minutes. Place the thermometer right smack dab in the middle of the roast. 125°F to 135°F is rare to medium rare. Anything to the left or to the right and going toward each end is more done than medium rare at that moment. My photos are largely unedited, and I am showing medium rare in each of them, as this is my mom’s favorite temperature. If that is still too rare for you, place back into the oven and test every 15 minutes using the same testing procedure.

      Now since you may be doing a smaller roast, and if you will be doing the potatoes this way, I recommend increasing the time the potatoes have in the oven on their own with the aromatics by 10 full minutes.

      I will send you an email to follow this reply so you can know how to reach me should you have questions 🙂 Jenny

  7. This recipe is too good to be true, but…IT IS! I’ve made this several times now following your directions exactly and there is a perfect temperature slice of filet mignon for everybody. I will be preparing for Christmas again this year!5 stars

    1. Margo, thank you so much! It’s doable with or without the potato/aromatics part if you JUST want the roast. That’s how I will do ours this year, as I want to serve it with my Parmesan-Crusted Southern Mashed Potatoes instead 🙂 Merry Christmas!

        1. Jennifer, yes that is correct. Still follow through with the rub, the baking soda, the rests…all of it. The ONLY THING that changes is you will lay across a meat rack within your roasting pan so the meat is not touching the pan. I’m doing mine this way, too. I’ll follow this up with an email to you 🙂 Jenny