Filet Mignon vs. Ribeye

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? I’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 my preferences, I like filet mignon because of its extreme tenderness and leanness. But I 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.

FeaturesFilet MignonRibeye
Location on the CowLoin primalRib primal
MusclesThe central section of psoas majorContains 3-4 different muscles
PriceVery expensive, more than ribeyeVery expensive
MarblingLowHigh
Average weightA 2-inch thick filet mignon typically weighs between 10 and 12 ouncesA 2-inch thick ribeye typically weighs between 20 and 23 ounces
Average sizeA 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 itGrilling, pan-searing, or broilingPan-searing, grilling, oven cooking, sous-vide, and even smoking
TendernessMelt-in-the-mouth textureVery tender but not as tender as filet mignon
FlavorVery mild flavorVery rich flavor
Filet Mignon vs. Ribeye: Table Comparison

Below, I 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.

Comparison: Filet Mignon vs. Ribeye Cuts from the Cow
Filet Mignon vs. Ribeye: Location on Cow

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 me, 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.

Ribeye and filet mignon
Ribeye Steak on the left and Filet Mignon on the right

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.

Four Ribeye Muscles: Longissimus Dorsi, Longissimus Costarum, Complexus, and Spinalis Dorsi.
Four Ribeye Muscles: Longissimus Dorsi, Longissimus Costarum, Complexus, and Spinalis Dorsi.

Marbling

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.

Difference in Marbling: Filet Mignon vs. Ribeye Steak
Difference in Marbling: Filet Mignon vs. Ribeye Steak

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, I 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.

An approximately 6-inch long ribeye steak, weighing 17 oz
A 6-inch long, 1.5-inch thick ribeye steak weighing 17 oz
An 11 oz filet mignon, measuring 3.5 inches in length and 2 inches in thickness.
An 11 oz filet mignon measuring 3.5 inches in length and 2 inches in thickness.

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.

Cooking

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. I am fan of pan searing, grilling, and even giving sous-vide a go.

pan-seared ribeye in cast iron skillet
Pan-seared ribeye in cast iron skillet

Flavor

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.

pan-seared ribeye steak; medium-rare doneness
Ribeye cooked to medium-rare doneness

Tenderness

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 me wrong, a ribeye is super impressive when it comes to tenderness, but the filet mignon? It’s just on another level.

The most tender steak, filet mignon, is on the left, while the less tender ribeye is on the right
The most tender steak, filet mignon, is on the left, while the less tender ribeye is on the right

Ideal Doneness

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 my experience and conversations with many steak enthusiasts.

Pan-seared filet mignon; rare doneness
Pan-seared filet mignon; rare doneness

Price

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.

FAQs

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.

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Written by: Adam Wojtow

Adam Wojtow is a Polish entrepreneur and writer who founded Steak Revolution in 2020 because of his passion for steaks. Adam has been cooking steaks for over 5 years, so he understands well all aspects of steak, from the types of steaks and their cooking times to choosing the best cooking technique for any steak.