My Recipe Box

Spice-Rubbed Roast Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine Sauce


Serves 8-10, with leftovers

This roast beef tenderloin looks glamorous and tastes amazing, yet it's practically foolproof. The meat gets its deeply browned exterior in the oven at a single temperature; no pre-searing or fussing with different temperatures necessary. Even better: The deeply flavored, thyme-infused red wine sauce can be made days ahead, so there's no last-minute panic when it comes time to serve.

For the beef
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 Tbs. ground fennel seed
  • 1/2 tsp. caraway seeds, coarsely ground
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 2-1/2-lb. beef butt tenderloins, trimmed  
For a crowd serve two partial tenderloins—request butt tenderloins at the meat counter—instead of one whole one. This way, there are no thinner tail ends, and the roasts cook evenly.
For the sauce
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil or canola oil  
  • 4 oz. cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced (1-3/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced shallot (1 medium)
  • 1/4 tsp. granulated sugar
  • Kosher salt  
  • 3 large sprigs fresh thyme 
  • 1 tsp. cracked black peppercorns
  • 1 750-ml bottle dry, hearty red wine,such as Shiraz or Zinfandel  
  • 2 cups lower-salt beef broth 
  • 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour 
  • Freshly ground black pepper 
Season the beef

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, thyme, fennel, caraway, 1 Tbs. salt, and 1-1/2 tsp. pepper. Pat the tenderloins dry with paper towels and coat them with the spice mixture, using your hands to spread it evenly; it will sparsely cover the meat. 

Make the sauce

Melt 1 Tbs. of the butter and the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, shallot, sugar, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring often, until soft and beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Add the thyme, peppercorns, and half of the wine. Simmer briskly until the wine reduces and just covers the solids, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the remaining wine and reduce again until the wine just covers the solids, 10 to 12 minutes more. Add the beef broth and simmer until reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve set over a 1-quart measuring cup, pressing lightly on the solids. If you have more than 1-1/2 cups liquid, return the sauce to the pan and simmer until reduced to 1-1/2 cups 

Melt the remaining 1 Tbs. butter in a 1-quart saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking often, until smooth and light beige in color, about 1 minute. Slowly add the wine reduction, whisking constantly. Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking often, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Roast the beef

If you've seasoned the beef ahead of time, remove it from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for about an hour before roasting. Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.

Arrange the roasts on a flat rack on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center reads 120°F for rare , 125°F to 130°F for medium rare, or 135°F for medium, 40 to 50 minutes. 


If the sauce was made ahead, heat gently in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, whisking a few times, until barely simmering. 

Meanwhile, let the beef rest for 15 minutes before carving crosswise into thick slices. Slice only as much as you plan to serve right away (leftovers keep better unsliced). Spoon the sauce over each serving or pass at the table. 

Make Ahead Tips

The beef can be seasoned with the spice rub up to 36 hours ahead. Put it on a rimmed baking sheet or platter, loosely cover with plastic, and refrigerate.

The sauce may be made up to two days ahead. Cool to room temperature before storing it airtight in the refrigerator.

Serving Suggestions

Start the meal with Potted Shrimp on Toast with Celery–Radish Salad, serve the tenderloin with Braised Fennel with Orange and Mashed Potato and Rutabaga Gratin, and make a Gingerbread-Brandy Trifle (also a great make-ahead) for dessert.


Leftover tenderloin makes delicious roast beef sandwiches; slice it thin and serve it on soft rolls with horseradish flavored mayonnaise and a few sprigs of watercress.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 570, Fat (kcal): 35, Fat Calories (g): 310, Saturated Fat (g): 13, Protein (g): 45, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 15, Carbohydrates (mg): 4, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 1.5, Sodium (g): 470, Cholesterol (g): 165, Fiber (g): 1,

Photo: Scott Phillips

Excellent flavors and easy to put together, especially for someone like me with limited energy. Made just as directed. Highly recommended!

This beef tenderloin was cooked perfect. I have never had a reduced red wine sauce that tasted this good. I wanted to lick the bowl. The mushroom shallots where wonderful. Definitely worth the stirring love it!

I'm rating the sauce only. Didn't follow this recipe for the tenderloin. I followed the sauce instructions exactly except I used regular beef broth (Minors') and didn't add salt. Then I sauteed more mushrooms and shallots, added them to the sauce and served them on the platter with the sliced filet. After the beef and mushrooms were gone, guests were passing the platter and using baguettes to sop up the sauce! Definitely worth the time. Really easy to do, too. Also, I made the sauce about two hours in advance, refrigerated, then reheated at the last minute.

So elegant and classic. If you're going to spring for this very pricey cut of meat, this is definitely the way to prepare and serve. The spice rub does not overwhelm and the red wine reduction is a classic. FABULOUS!

Rave reviews! The beef was super tender and had lots of flavor. Made the sauce and the braised fennel and the potato rutabaga gratin. Served rolls. We had cheese and crackers and baked Brie for appetizers. For four of us, it was plenty. Simple and fantastic. None of us had had fennel in anything other than soup, so it was a treat to try something new. Only thing I made on Christmas morning was the sauce. Friends brought dessert. Perfect and what a great idea - "make ahead!" A winner all around.

Rave reviews! The beef was super tender and had lots of flavor. Made the sauce and the braised fennel and the potato rutabaga gratin. Served rolls. We had cheese and crackers and baked Brie for appetizers. For four of us, it was plenty. Simple and fantastic. None of us had had fennel in anything other than soup, so it was a treat to try something new. Only thing I made on Christmas morning was the sauce. Friends brought dessert. Perfect and what a great idea - "make ahead!" A winner all around.

Don't waste your time on the sauce. After all the time and fine ingredients, it comes out tasting like a can of beef broth.

For 15 years my neighbor (an international award-winning chef) has purchased and trimmed a Prime Beef Tenderloin for me right before Christmas. For 15 years I have tried a different recipe in an attempt to find the one that my family unanimously agrees "That's IT". Don't get me wrong, we enjoyed virtually all the recipes ... it's hard to go wrong with Prime beef, but when I served this last Christmas to a crowd of hungry elves, everyone ... and I DO mean everyone ... took a bite, sat back in their chairs with their eyes closed and chewed and savored the delectable beef. I have finally found my "IT" recipe and will be using it for the next 15+ years. The only thing I do different from the recipe is that rather than roasting the beef in the oven, I cook it in my rotisserie for about 40 min and it always comes out perfect, medium rare, juicy and melt-in-your-mouth tender. Yep, I still have my Ronco "Set It And Forget it"! Thank you Molly for sharing this outstanding recipe!

This is an amazing beef tenderloin recipe that I have now made a few times and am repeating tonight again. Want to make your company VERY happy? Make this.

Very nice indeed. The only thing I changed was I put the meat in at 500F, then immediately turned it down to the suggested temperature. I don't consider this "fussy", takes all of 5 seconds and it makes for a lovely sear. The caraway/fennel combo is unusual and gives this dish some flair, not to mention a very appetizing smell from the oven.

Great recipe. Easy to make and delicious. Quality of meat is critical to this dish - get the best you can possibly afford. I used Shiraz for the sauce, then added some Cabernet to increase the sauce recipe by half because I was afraid I wouldn't have enough (I would have, FYI). The mix still worked great. Definitely a keeper.

Roast was very tasty. We purchased a whole tenderloin and trussed it so that it would cook evenly. We cooked it on the grill so that we had the oven free. Sauce was excellent. Mashed Potato and Rutabaga Gratin were very tasty and we will make it again.

I have made this five times and it is always fantastic. I always use a decent Zinfandel ($20-$25) and it does make a difference, though the wine reduction sauce is always excellent. I use a 'stay in the oven' thermometer and take the roast out at 130F and it is perfectly medium rare after 15 minutes of resting. I make 1 1/2 cups of sauce even when I only cook a 3 pound roast, as the sauce is so good on other food. I always get asked for this recipe.

Gotta say, this was one of the finest recipes I ever tried. I was intimidated at first. Would have hated to screw up such an expensive cut of meat. I bought a 5 pound tenderloin at Costco and cut it in half. The wine sauce was outstanding, too! Great holiday meal that I will be sure to make for years to come. Don't change anything about this recipe. The flavor the spices give the meat are second to none.

I saw this come thru XMAS morning. We sort of forgot about dinner and I got intrigued. Found a Safeway, bought the LAST tenderloin they had, found a tuna steak for me, and came home to spend a great afternoon cooking! My husband said it was the best he had ever had! Had to use dried thyme because the market was out of fresh, but it was still outstanding! The tenderloin was just over 3 lbs, and my husband cut it into 3 roasts (I don't eat meat). If you do this with a smaller roast, such as we did, start checking the meat at 20 minutes. Oh - I used a Bogle Zin for the sauce.

Quite easily the best meat dish I have ever cooked. Worth the price of the beef tenderloin!

"As good as going out to a fancy restaurant!" was one comment. I modified the spices, but kept lots of thyme and black pepper. The wine sauce was wonderful and it was easy to make ahead and warm up for serving. I'm not much of a beef eater,myself, but will definitely make this --and enjoy this--again!

Glad that I found this recipe!! I made it at home and it really taste goooooooood!! I’m so sure my family and friends will love this Thanks!! You can also find beef recipes that you will like at

Very Good and super easy! I realized at the last minute that I didn't have either fennel seed or caraway, so I just used salt, pepper, and fresh thyme for the rub. the sauce reduced in a reasonable amount of time for me and it was delicious. I knew I had a winner when I saw my brother ladling the sauce over his scalloped potatoes! We are enjoying the leftovers in sandwiches, too.

I often make beef tenderloin for Christmas dinner, so I thought I'd give this one a try. It is absolutely fantastic! My guests loved it and the sauce was out of this world good! It does take a little time to get the sauce reduced to the proper volume, but I just turned up the heat a smidgen and this helped. Cooked to just under 140 and let it rest...meat was a perfect medium. Melts in your mouth and the sauce is definitely worth the effort!

Although it took a long time to make, the red wine sauce was worth it! I seared the beef before putting in the oven. Delicious & will be my annual Christmas dinner. My husband & guests loved it. Plus my house smelled awesome!

I saw a picture of this and wanted to try. I never cooked tenderloin and was excited to see how it will taste with all the ingredients and at the same time I was nervous. I LOVED how this turned out! I rubbed the beef the night before and when it came out from the oven it SMELLED soooo good! The wine sauce was very good but most of my friends were eating without the sauce; the tenderloin will have a great flavor by the spices so if you like simple, you might not need the sauce. I had fun making the sauce :-) I had about 15 people and there was NONE left! I did roast about 50 minutes (shooting for med-rare) and I thought it was more close to rare than med-rare. I will leave it for a little longer next time. (I have a gas oven...and it might be just my oven). It took about a few hours for me to do the sauce...simmering the sauce to get down to 1-1/2 cup took a little bit. Overall this was a very easy recipe and I would DO it again. I already recommended to my co-worker. enjoyed every step of the recipe and LOVED how it turned out!!!!!!

Made this delicious meal for a dinner party of six. I was nervous at first having never made a tenderloin before as it is an expensive cut of meat but I was determined. I followed the recipe to a T and it turned out AMAZING. Prepare to spoil your senses.

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