A pan-seared filet mignon, basted with butter, garlic, and fresh herbs for better flavor, is one of the best ways to prepare filet mignon. My recipe doesn’t just give you the basics; it also gives you the inside scoop on making sure it turns out perfect every time. Learn how to do it all in a cast-iron skillet; no oven needed.
The Ingredients You’ll Need
To make a tasty filet mignon in a skillet, you just need a few simple ingredients; chances are, you already have most of them at home.
- A 1.75 to 2.25 inches thick Filet mignon
- High-smoke point oil (I recommend avocado oil)
- Kosher salt
- Finely ground pepper
- Unsalted butter
- Garlic cloves
- Fresh Thyme or Rosemary
The Tools You’ll Need
- Cast Iron Skillet
- Instant Read Thermometer
How to Cook Filet Mignon on a Stove
Here is a detailed, step-by-step guide, complete with explanations and photos, on how to cook a filet mignon in a skillet on a Stove.
Note: For this recipe, I used a 2-inch thick filet mignon. To get that ideal combo of a nice crust and a rare or medium-rare inside, aim for a filet mignon that’s at least 1.5 to 2.25 inches thick. Two inches is best. If you go for a thinner filet, like 1 inch, you won’t get a good crust if you’re also trying to keep it rare or medium-rare. On the flip side, if you cook a filet mignon that’s 3 inches thick, you’ll likely end up with a crust that’s burned and a still undercooked center.
Step 1: Prepare the Filet Mignon
First, make sure to dry your steak well with a paper towel. Once it’s dry, you’ll want to salt it. But what’s the best time for the salting? Well, that depends on when you plan to sear the steak.
- Option 1 (Not Recommended): If you’re short on time and want to cook the steak right away, remove it from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes. After that, proceed to the next step.
- Option 2 (Better Flavor and Crust): Take the steak from the refrigerator, season it generously on all sides with salt, and let it rest on a wire rack for at least 40-50 minutes. Once the resting period is over, you’re ready for the next step.
- Option 3 (Highly Recommended): For the best steak ever, salt it all over and place it on a wire rack in the refrigerator for 24 hours. The next day, remove the steak and allow it to sit at room temperature for approximately 30 minutes before proceeding to the next step. You’ll notice that the steak’s surface will be drier after 24 hours of salting, which is ideal for pan-searing.
Note: A dry steak surface will give you a better sear. Don’t start cooking the steak between 5 and 45 minutes after salting – wait at least 45 minutes. You’ll see that salt draws moisture to the steak’s surface, and searing during this window won’t give you the best results. But don’t worry, the steak will reabsorb that moisture, making it even tastier. That’s why it’s a good idea to let the steak rest in the fridge for a day after you salt it.
Step 2: Preheat the Cast-Iron Skillet
Place the cast-iron skillet on high heat for 3-4 minutes. By then, the skillet should be around 425-500°F hot. Next, add a tablespoon of refined avocado oil and wait another minute.
While the pan is heating, season your filet mignon with some finely ground pepper on all sides. If you haven’t yet salted the steak, now’s the time to do it—preferably right when adding the oil to the skillet.
Note: Be careful when you put that filet mignon in the hot pan. Remember, it’s gonna be really hot, like over 450°F hot. Also, ensure you’re using the right oil with a high smoke point. Refined avocado oil is great; it has a smoke point of just over 500°F. If you’re rushing at the store, it’s easy to accidentally grab unrefined avocado oil, which is unsuitable for this recipe—it has a smoke point of only 350-375°F. So, double-check the label.
Step 3: Place the Filet Mignon in the Skillet
Has it been about 4-5 minutes since you turned up the heat on the pan? If so, you’re good to go. Carefully put the filet mignon in the pan and gently press your steak onto the pan to get a nice sear.
Keep flipping the filet mignon every 30-60 seconds. Do this until the steak’s internal temperature is roughly 100°F. Then, turn down the heat to low, and you’re ready for the next step.
Note: An instant-read thermometer is your best friend to get the steak’s internal temperature right. In my run, the filet mignon hit 100°F in 5-6 minutes. But remember, that’s just an estimate. Cooking times can change based on a bunch of factors. So, it’s a good idea to use a thermometer to be sure instead of just trusting 100% in what you read online.
Step 4: Baste the Filet Mignon with Butter
Start by throwing in butter, rosemary or thyme, and a few crushed garlic cloves. While waiting for that butter to melt, go ahead and sear the sides of the filet mignon. Just flip the steak on its side, maybe near the pan wall, and give it about 30 seconds on each side.
After that, move the filet mignon up closer to the top edge of the pan. Then, gather all that good stuff—butter, herbs, garlic—at the bottom of the pan. Tilt the pan, grab a spoon, and start basting the steak with the butter, aiming for 30 to 60 seconds on each side.
Once you’ve done a round of basting, check the steak’s internal temperature. If it’s around 110-115°F, you can take it off the pan.
In this recipe, I aim for the rare or low end of medium-rare (about 120-130°F). So, when your steak hits 110-115°F, pull it off the heat. The temperature will rise another 10-20°F or so as the steak rests for 5-10 minutes after you’ve taken it out of the pan.
Note: Don’t forget to toss in the butter, garlic, and herbs near the end of your cooking. Butter has a lower smoke point, around 300°F, so if you add it too early, you risk burning it. Many folks mess this up, which messes up the steak’s flavor.
Step 5: Let the Filet Mignon Rest
Please don’t cut into it right away after you cook the filet mignon. Let the cooked filet mignon rest for at least 5 to 10 minutes. During this time, the meat relaxes, and the juices get a chance to redistribute.
You’ll lose many tasty juices if you skip this and cut the steak immediately. Trust me, waiting those extra few minutes really makes a difference.
Pan-Seared Filet Mignon
- 1 10 oz filet mignon 2 inches thick
- kosher salt
- black pepper
- ½ stick butter unsalted
- 1 tablespoon High-smoke point oil I recommend refined avocado oil
- 2-4 garlic cloves
- thyme or rosemary fresh
- Prep Your Steak: Choose one of three options based on your timing:Quick Method: Let it sit out for 20-30 minutes.Better: Salt it generously and let it sit on a wire rack for around 50 minutes.Best: Season it, put it on a wire rack in the fridge for a whole day, then bring it to room temperature for about half an hour before cooking.
- Get That Skillet Hot: Heat your cast-iron on high until it's between 425-500°F (3-4 minutes), then add a spoonful of avocado oil and wait one more minute.
- Season Time: If you haven't salted your steak yet, do it now. Also sprinkle some freshly ground pepper on all sides.
- Searing: Carefully lay your steak in the hot pan. Flip it every minute or two until the internal temp reaches around 100°F, then turn the heat down low.
- Buttery Goodness: Throw in a chunk of unsalted butter, some fresh thyme or rosemary, and a couple of crushed garlic cloves. Sear the edges of the steak and then let the buttery, herby, garlicky goodness rain down on your steak as you spoon-baste it for 30-60 seconds on each side. Pull the filet mignon out when it hits between 115-120°F.
- For that killer crust and perfect inside, go for a 2-inch thick filet mignon.
- A dry surface on your steak gives you an awesome sear.
- Use the instant-read thermometer; don’t guess the temperature.
- Butter can burn quickly, so add it toward the end.
- Let the steak chill out after cooking to keep it juicy and amazing.