Filet mignon and ribeye are two popular steaks well-known for their tender texture. But beyond their tenderness, they differ in several ways, including marbling, flavor, their origin on the cow, and even the recommended cooking methods. Both filet mignon and ribeye have dedicated fan bases for good reason, but which one is better for you? We’ll dig into the major differences between these two steaks to help you figure it out.
Filet Mignon vs. Ribeye: At a Glance
The biggest difference between filet mignon and ribeye is their marbling and flavor. Both of these cuts come from different parts of the cow. Filet mignon is smaller and lean, with little marbling, which unfortunately means less flavor. Ribeye is a much bigger steak with lots of marbling, which makes it super flavorful. Filet mignon is extremely tender—like melt-in-your-mouth tender. So, in that regard, it’s better than ribeye. But that doesn’t mean ribeye is tough; it’s the third most tender steak you can get from a cow. So, if you cook it right, it’s also very tender.
As for our preferences, we like filet mignon because of its extreme tenderness and leanness. But we love ribeye because it offers exceptional flavor and tenderness in a single steak. Plus, it’s easy to cook, making it an excellent choice even for those new to the world of steaks.
|Location on the Cow||Loin primal||Rib primal|
|Muscles||The central section of psoas major||Contains 3-4 different muscles|
|Price||Very expensive, more than ribeye||Very expensive|
|Average weight||A 2-inch thick filet mignon typically weighs between 10 and 12 ounces||A 2-inch thick ribeye typically weighs between 20 and 23 ounces|
|Average size||A filet mignon measures between 2.5 to 4 inches in width.||A ribeye measures between 6 to 8 inches long and gets up to about 5 inches wide at its widest point|
|Best way to cook it||Grilling, pan-searing, or broiling||Pan-searing, grilling, oven cooking, sous-vide, and even smoking|
|Tenderness||Melt-in-the-mouth texture||Very tender but not as tender as filet mignon|
|Flavor||Very mild flavor||Very rich flavor|
Below, we will delve into the most significant differences between filet mignon and ribeye in greater detail.
Location on the Cow
Both filet mignon and ribeye steaks come from different parts of the cow. Filet mignon is from the loin area, specifically from the central part of the long psoas major muscle. In contrast, the ribeye steak is from the rib primal, cut between the 6th and 12th ribs.
Physical Appearance & Muscles
The filet mignon comes from the central part of the psoas major muscle. This muscle is lean and not extensively used by the animal, resulting in the steak’s incredible tenderness. However, while tenderness is undoubtedly a plus, many steak enthusiasts, including ourselves, believe that a steak’s flavor is equally crucial. Unfortunately, the filet mignon has a milder flavor, which might be disappointing for those who prefer a strong beefy taste in their steak.
On the other hand, the ribeye consists of up to 3-4 different muscles. The primary muscles in a ribeye are the longissimus dorsi and spinalis dorsi, which rank among the most flavorful in the cow. Smaller muscles in this cut include the complexus and longissimus costarum. What’s interesting is that the proportion of these muscles can vary depending on which part of the rib section the ribeye is cut from. Additionally, not every ribeye will contain the longissimus costarum muscle.
Filet mignon is one of the leanest cuts available, while the ribeye is notably one of the fattiest. A ribeye boasts significant marbling, especially in the spinalis dorsi (also known as the ribeye cap) and the longissimus dorsi (referred to as the eye of the ribeye) muscles. On the other hand, filet mignon has almost no marbling unless you’re considering the highest-grade cuts, which can be prohibitively expensive.
The difference in marbling between these two steaks is clear in the photo below.
Another point to note: the ribeye has a lot of intermuscular fat (don’t confuse it with marbling). This means you don’t need to add extra oil when searing a ribeye. However, if you’re grilling, be wary of flare-ups due to this fat content. In contrast, filet mignon lacks significant intermuscular fat—it’s a notably lean cut.
Size and Weight
Filet mignon is considerably smaller and lighter than a ribeye of the same thickness. A filet mignon usually measures between 2.5 to 4 inches in width. Although it can be cut to any desired thickness, filet mignon is most commonly found in 1.5 to 2 inches thick cuts. Ribeye, similar to filet mignon, can also be cut to any thickness; however, we recommend a minimum thickness of 1.5 to 2 inches for the perfect balance between interior and crust. Regarding the overall dimensions, a ribeye is typically 6 to 7 inches in length and about 4 inches wide at its widest point.
In terms of weight, a 2-inch-thick filet mignon generally weighs around 10 to 12 ounces. A ribeye of the same thickness, on the other hand, weighs approximately 20 to 23 ounces.
Filet mignon can be a bit trickier to cook than ribeye. It’s best prepared in a skillet or on the grill; however, its lean nature means it cooks quickly and can easily dry out if you’re not careful. Ribeye, on the other hand, is more forgiving. You can use any method to cook it. We’re fans of pan searing, grilling, and even giving sous-vide a go.
The flavor of filet mignon is its biggest drawback; it has a mild taste and often lacks juiciness, especially when cooked beyond medium-rare. On the other hand, ribeye stands out for its rich, beefy taste, being notably one of the most flavorful and juiciest steaks.
Both filet mignon and ribeye are super tender cuts of beef. But if we’re talking about that next-level, melt-in-your-mouth feel, then filet mignon takes the crown. Don’t get us wrong, a ribeye is super impressive when it comes to tenderness, but the filet mignon? It’s just on another level.
Filet mignon is lean, so it’s best to cook it to rare or medium-rare; otherwise, it might become dry and lose its characteristic tenderness. On the other hand, ribeye boasts a high-fat content, which plays a significant role in its flavor and juiciness. But remember, for the fat to enhance the ribeye’s taste and texture, it needs to melt. Therefore, cooking a ribeye to medium-rare, or at most medium, is recommended to ensure the fat melts while keeping a pink and tender center. For reference, fat typically melts between 130-140°F, making medium-rare an ideal cooking doneness for ribeye.
Now, when it comes to lean steaks like filet mignon, there’s hardly any fat to worry about. So you can even cook it to rare doneness if that’s how you like it. At the end of the day, what really matters is how you prefer your steak. These are just tips from our experience and conversations with many steak enthusiasts.
According to USDA retail reports, a pound of filet mignon costs significantly more than a pound of ribeye. However, when comparing steak to steak, the prices of both cuts are similar. It’s important to note that a 1.5-inch-thick filet mignon is much lighter and smaller than a ribeye of the same thickness.
Which is More Expensive: Filet Mignon or Ribeye?
Filet mignon tends to be pricier than ribeye of the same grade and thickness, whether you’re shopping at a butcher’s store or dining at a steakhouse.
Which is More Flavorful: Filet Mignon or Ribeye?
Ribeye is more flavorful than filet mignon. Ribeye is high in marbling, making it one of the beefiest and richest cuts in flavor, much more so than filet mignon. Because of this great combo of flavor and tenderness, many folks consider ribeye the best cut you can get.
Which is More Tender: Filet Mignon or Ribeye?
Without a doubt, filet mignon is much more tender than ribeye. Properly cooked, filet mignon has a melt-in-your-mouth texture. It is the most tender cut of steak on the cow.
Filet Mignon vs. Ribeye: Which is Better?
Both cuts are delicious and worth recommending. The choice comes down to your personal preferences. If you enjoy a steak’s tender, melt-in-your-mouth texture, opt for filet mignon. If you prefer more flavor and an easier cooking experience, go for the ribeye steak.