Ribeye vs Filet Mignon: Is There Even A Difference?

Making the wrong choice can be embarrassing. When diving into the BBQ or meat smoking world it is important you learn a thing or two about the different types of steak, their origins, and differences. 

This can help you cook better and avoid awkward conversations at the table. 

On this edition of ‘meat vs meat’ I will be looking at ribeye vs filet mignon.

I can confirm to you these are two totally different cuts of meat.

These types of steak are delicious and luxurious but made from entirely different types of beef.

Stick around to find out the differences between these two types of beef, as well as all other comparisons between filet mignon and ribeye.

Ribeye Vs Filet Mignon

The ribeye steak gets its name from the swirl of fat and meat that you see inside it. This cut of beef used in making the ribeye determines if it would have bones or not.

The ribeye is cut from the beef’s rib section. This is the same area that the prime rib roast comes from as well. Unlike the prime rib roast, the ribeye steak is not cooked as a roast.

The portion of meat sliced will also determine whether the ribeye will contain spinalis, longissimus dorsi muscles or spinalis. When it does contain these parts, it has a blend of tenderness and marbled meat with connective tissues.

The ribeye has the highest abundance of fat marbling than all other types of meat. This is why it is known among steak lovers as the most flavored and juicy of all steaks. When the ribeye is sliced, broiled and grilled, it becomes a ribeye chop. The fat marbling gives the ribeye the buttery flavor that it has.

What Is the Technical Definition of Filet Mignon?

The filet mignon is also known as the tenderloin filet. This steak has very little marbling of fat and so is ideal for people who are watching their intake of fat. The flavor of this steak is very mild, but it is the most tender of all other steak types. It is usually cooked with seasonings to improve its taste.

The filet mignon gotten from a cow’s tenderloin may be made whole without being sliced, although this is not most people’s preference. The cuts along the short dimension and across the forward end is considered as a filet mignon. However, the best of this steak is cut from the center of the tenderloin.

Where Does Filet Mignon Come From?

Filet Mignon is a French phrase that translates to ‘dainty filet.’ It is gotten from the tenderloin and get its name and size from this part as well.

The tenderloin extends from the ribs of a cow to its sirloin, just around the abdomen region. This muscle is hardly used by the cow when it is being cooked, so it is very tender with little connective tissues on it.

The filet mignon is cut from the smallest parts of the tenderloin, and ten to twelve of it can be gotten from an average-sized cow.

Filet or Ribeye: What’s the Difference?

The main difference between the two types of steak lies in their location.

The ribeye is gotten from the side of a cow while the filet mignon is cut from the tenderloin, a muscle just below the backbone.

Another difference between these two types of steak is in the muscles that they are made up of. The ribeye has a tender texture and is marbled.

The filet mignon, on the other hand, has a soft texture and fine-grained muscles in it. Also, the ribeye is cut into large chunks, while the filet mignon is cut into small pieces.

Lastly, the flavors of the two types of steak are different. The filet mignon is not as flavorful as the ribeye. However, the ribeye has a higher fat content than the filet mignon.

Ribeye vs. Filet Mignon Differences Comparison Table

Ribeye
Filet Mignon
High-fat content
Low-fat content
Largely cut
Cut into small pieces
Tender texture
Soft texture
Steak is marbled
Steak has fine-grained muscles

Difference in Appearance

The most noticeable difference between the filet mignon and ribeye steak is in their sizes.

The ribeye is larger than the filet mignon. Even though there could be variations in the cut, the typical ribeye steak is almost twice the size of the filet mignon.

A further look at the cuts of the ribeye and filet mignon shows more differences in their appearance. A filet mignon has a large number of fine-grained muscles, with little fat in thin streaks around it.

The ribeye, on the other hand, is marbled in almost every portion. White fat specks can be seen all over the ribeye, and some thick fat strips around the middle and edge.

Lastly, when inspecting the meat, you will also notice that the ribeye has more myoglobin giving it a deep-red coloring.

The myoglobin content in the filet mignon is far less, causing it to have a pale-red coloring. These differences are more noticeable before the cuts are grilled or boiled.

Difference in Texture

The ribeye and filet mignon are made from two different muscles, and so have different textures.

The tenderloin of a cow is hardly used throughout its lifetime, so the filet mignon cuts gotten from it is very tender.

It has been described as having a texture that melts almost instantly in the mouth. There are few connective tissues in this steak, and so you would rarely have tough bits to chew.

On the other hand, the ribeye is much tougher than the filet mignon. Nevertheless, the fat content of the ribeye steak gives it a juicy and tender beef cut, which you would expect from a steak gotten from a cow’s side. It is not as soft as the filet mignon, but relatively more tender than other beef cuts.

Lastly, ribeye steak is generally thicker than the filet mignon because of its fatty layer at the sides and edges.

The Cost: Ribeye Steak vs Filet Mignon

The filet mignon is generally more expensive than the ribeye.

A small amount of filet mignon can be gotten from an average-sized cow. This is because the tenderloin is a sleek and most tender beef cut of a cow’s meat.

However, the wider end of a cow’s tenderloin is sold for a lower price than its tail-end.

In contrast, the ribeye sold in most restaurants and steakhouses goes for a lower price.

This is because of the large size of the side of the cow from where it is gotten from. It is more affordable than filet mignon.

How to Cook Ribeye or Filet Mignon to Perfection

The methods of cooking a ribeye and filet mignon are quite different. Ribeyes can be cooked at high temperatures because they contain a lot of fat.

However, you should rub some olive oil on both sides of the beef cut. This will prevent it from drying up and sticking to the surface of the oven or grill.

Since the steaks are huge, they may be cooked in an oven or grill, after searing.

The pan, grill, or oven should also be oiled. Make sure to allow the oil to heat up before placing your steaks in them, so the ribeye steak doesn’t get soaked.

Leave the steak to cook for about two minutes till a charring-brown color is observed. They are served without any sauce because of the rich flavor contained in them.

In contrast, your filet mignon should first be held at room temperature before cooking. So, take it out of the fridge!

Then, pat-dry the steak with a paper towel to absorb the moisture that will prevent the steak from getting an even crust.

Next, generously season the steak with salt and pepper. You will need a lot of seasoning to get the flavor up.

Use stainless steel or cast-iron pan to heat the crust for about five minutes. Then, add oil to the hot pan. When the oil starts to shimmer, then you will know it is time to start searing your filet mignon.

Place the steak on the pan without moving or turning it for about two to three minutes. When the steak is ready, a thick brown crust will be formed.

Which Cut is Easier to Grill?

Different approaches can be taken when grilling each of these cuts. The ribeye cut has more fat than the filet mignon, and so it will melt faster. When the fat melts, the cut becomes exposed to heat. This can cause flareups and charring of the exterior part of the cut.

The ribeye cut requires more attention, but you should not avoid grilling it because of this. It is advisable that you do not touch the steak when it is placed on the grill. Beginners tend to shift it about, but you should only do that during flareups. You should also check it regularly because it does not take long to grill as soon as the oil gets hot.

Filet mignon is a lean cut and is usually wrapped in bacon or other cured meats. If you decide to wrap it, then you should also observe it carefully because the risk of flareups is quite high. If you intend to increase the flavor of the cut, then you can baste it. Basting involves adding a few spoons of butter until it melts in the pan. Then, you can spoon it over the steak frequently to add to the taste of the cut.

When cooking a filet mignon, you should strictly adhere to the rule of not touching or turning it. It cooks quickly over a high-heating source. Usually, an oven or grill that can supply 450 to 500 degrees of heat will do the job for you. However, even grilling of the surface of the filet mignon is usually a problem. After grilling it on a pan, the filet mignon could be placed in an oven. Be sure to use a grill that can give you the brown crust you deserve.

That’s pretty much all you need to grill a filet mignon.

Wrapping it up: Ribeye vs Filet Mignon

The filet mignon and ribeye steaks are two of the most common types of steak available. They are quite different in shape, cost, and texture, but are both delicious and tasty.

Adding the right flavor to the filet mignon is essential. On the other hand, ribeye needs to be cooked well to be enjoyed. Both these steaks go well with broccoli salad and carrots.

Enjoy your steak!

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