What part of the cow do tenderloin tips come from?
Tenderloin tips come from the short loin primal cut of beef. The short loin is located along the back of the cow, just in front of the sirloin primal cut. It contains portions of two major muscles – the tenderloin and the strip loin.
Tenderloin tips are cut from the tapered end of the tenderloin muscle. The tenderloin is one of the most tender muscles on the cow because it doesn’t get much use. It has very little fat marbling as well. This makes the tenderloin and tenderloin tips very tender, lean cuts of beef.
Anatomy of the Beef Tenderloin
The beef tenderloin is a long, tapering muscle that runs along the underside of the spine in the short loin primal cut. The wider “butt” end of the tenderloin connects to the short loin near the rib primal while the narrow “tail” end extends down into the sirloin primal.
Tenderloin tips are triangular slices cut from the tail end of the whole tenderloin. They are essentially the same cut of meat as a tenderloin steak or filet mignon, just cut into smaller pieces.
What do tenderloin tips look like?
Tenderloin tips are triangular or oblong shaped cuts of meat that are approximately 2-3 inches long and 1-2 inches wide. They weigh around 4 ounces each.
The exterior of tenderloin tips is a bit rougher and darker than typical tenderloin cuts since they come from the outer portion of the tapered tail end. But the interior is bright red in color and very lean and tender like all tenderloin cuts.
Key Characteristics of Tenderloin Tips:
- Triangular or oblong shape
- Around 2-3 inches long and 1-2 inches wide
- Weigh approximately 4 ounces each
- Lean with very little marbling
- Bright red interior when sliced
How are tenderloin tips different than other tenderloin cuts?
The main difference between tenderloin tips and other tenderloin cuts like filet mignon is their shape and size. Filet mignon steaks are cut from the thick center portion of the tenderloin into rounds or rectangles. Tenderloin tips are cut from the narrow, tapered tail end into triangular pieces.
However, tenderloin tips are essentially the same cut of extremely tender, lean beef as traditional tenderloin steaks. They simply come in smaller, irregular portions compared to the uniform steaks.
Here is a comparison between common tenderloin cuts:
|Center of tenderloin
|Round or rectangular
|Tail end of tenderloin
|Triangular or oblong
|Around 4 ounces
|Center of tenderloin
|Round and thick
How to cook tenderloin tips
Because they are already cut into small, irregular pieces, tenderloin tips are very versatile to cook with. Here are some of the most popular preparation methods:
Tenderloin tips are excellent sautéed in a pan with some oil or butter. Cook over high heat for just 1-2 minutes per side until browned but still red inside. The irregular shape gives you plenty of crispy, browned edges.
Grilling tenderloin tips over direct high heat also creates delicious caramelization on the outside while keeping the inside tender and juicy. Grill for 2-3 minutes per side.
Braised or Simmered
Braising or simmering the tenderloin tips in liquid is a great way to keep them moist while adding lots of flavor. Braise in wine, broth or barbecue sauce for 15-30 minutes until fork tender.
Thread tenderloin tips onto skewers for easy maneuvering on the grill or under the broiler. This also gives you more browned surface area on the meat. Grill or broil skewers for 2-3 minutes per side.
For dishes like beef stroganoff or stew, cut the tenderloin tips into 1 inch pieces to cook in the rich braising liquid. Tips mirror the texture of cubed stew meat while keeping their inherent tenderness.
What’s the best way to cook tenderloin tips?
The best cooking method really depends on your preferences and the dish you are making. For example:
- For steakhouse-style tenderloin, sear the tips over high heat and serve with a red wine reduction.
- For Asian flavors, stir fry the tips in a marinade and serve over rice.
- For down home comfort food, braise or simmer the tips in gravy, barbecue sauce or stew.
In general, the quick cooking methods like grilling, broiling and sautéing are best to preserve the natural tenderness of the meat. Low, moist methods like braising work well too as long as you don’t overcook them.
Tenderloin tips pair well with all kinds of flavors from bold marinades to simple salt and pepper. Their versatility makes them a good candidate for both weeknight dinners and fancy restaurant-style meals.
Can you substitute other cuts for tenderloin tips?
If you can’t find tenderloin tips, or want a more budget-friendly option, here are some good substitutes:
Cut from the muscle next to the tenderloin, strip steak has a bit more fat for richness of flavor. Cut into pieces to mimic tips.
Also called sirloin tips, flap meat provides uniform pieces with good tenderness.
Trimmed and cut into cubes, tri-tip makes an economical substitute with similar texture.
Cut from the center rather than the tail, it will have a milder flavor but still provides ultimate tenderness.
Any relatively tender cut that can be portioned into pieces will work in place of tenderloin tips. Adjust marinating and cooking times as needed to account for differences in texture.
Tenderloin Tip Recipe Ideas
Here are some delicious recipe ideas that are perfect for putting tenderloin tips to use:
Steakhouse Style Tips
– Pan seared tenderloin tips
– Blue cheese butter
– Red wine reduction
– Mashed potatoes and asparagus
Beef Stir Fry
– Tenderloin tips
– Bell peppers and onions
– Soy, ginger and garlic marinade
– Sesame rice
– Marinated and grilled tenderloin tips
– Peppers and onions
– Corn tortillas, guacamole, pico de gallo
– Mexican rice
– Tenderloin tips braised in sauce
– Mushrooms, onion, garlic
– Egg noodles or mashed potatoes
Tips with Chimichurri Sauce
– Grilled tenderloin tips
– Chimichurri sauce
– Rice pilaf and grilled vegetables
Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry
– Tenderloin tips and broccoli florets
– Stir fry sauce
– Jasmine rice
The small size and quick cooking time of tenderloin tips allows you to prepare them on busy weeknights. Their tenderness remains constant regardless of the recipe or preparation method.
How long do tenderloin tips last in the fridge or freezer?
Properly stored, tenderloin tips will last 3-5 days in the refrigerator and 6-12 months in the freezer.
Here are some tips for maximizing the shelf life:
- Refrigerate tenderloin tips as soon as possible after purchasing, ideally within an hour.
- Place in an airtight container or bag to prevent moisture loss and freezer burn.
- Use within 3-5 days for peak freshness and quality.
- For freezing, wrap well and squeeze out excess air.
- Freeze at 0°F or below for 6-12 months.
- Thaw in the refrigerator, not at room temperature to prevent bacterial growth.
The sell-by date on pre-packaged tenderloin tips at the grocery store is typically around 6 days out from the packing date. Use by this date for best flavor, color and texture.
With proper refrigeration and freezing methods, you can enjoy tender, high-quality tenderloin tips for up to 12 months past the purchase date.
Nutrition Facts for Tenderloin Tips
One of the benefits of tenderloin tips is their lean nutrition profile. Here is the nutrition breakdown for a 4 ounce serving:
|% Daily Value
As you can see, tenderloin tips are an excellent source of lean protein with less than 5 grams of total fat per serving. They are also low in sodium and provide iron.
The vitamin and mineral content of beef varies depending on the cut. In general, tenderloin tips provide useful amounts of:
- B Vitamins – for energy
- Zinc – for immunity
- Selenium – antioxidant properties
For their stellar nutritional profile of protein, iron, vitamins and minerals, tenderloin tips make a smart addition to a healthy diet. Their lean nature allows you to keep calories under control as well.
The Cost of Tenderloin Tips
Tenderloin tips are on the pricier side since they come from the extra tender tenderloin muscle. Expect to pay $13-17 per pound for tenderloin tips at the grocery store.
This compares to around $9-12 per pound for filet mignon steaks from the center of the tenderloin. Tenderloin tips often cost a couple dollars more per pound due to lower demand and their irregular shape.
While not the most budget-friendly cut, tenderloin tips provide an opportunity to enjoy the tenderloin at a lower cost than a whole filet or tournedos. Their small size also means you don’t have to buy an entire large tenderloin roast.
A one pound package of tenderloin tips will typically yield 3-4 servings. So you can enjoy this premium cut for $4-5 per 4 ounce portion.
Here are some tips for getting the best value on tenderloin tips:
- Check for sales and club pack pricing at warehouse stores.
- Watch for markdowns on packaged tenderloin tips nearing the sell-by date.
- Consider substituting with cheaper cuts like sirloin tips or flap meat if cost is a concern.
- Freeze extra tips purchased on sale to enjoy later.
While more expensive than common cuts like ground beef or chuck roast, tenderloin tips provide an affordable way to work this luxurious cut into your budget on special occasions.
Where to Buy Tenderloin Tips
You can find packaged tenderloin tips at most major grocery stores and warehouse clubs like Costco. They are usually stocked in the meat department alongside other beef roasts and steaks.
Alternatively, ask your local butcher if they have tenderloin tips available. A butcher can cut them to order from whole beef tenderloins. This ensures you get the freshest tips.
When shopping, look for packages of tenderloin tips that:
- Appear bright red in color with minimal discoloration
- Feel cold and firm to the touch
- Have no strong odor – should smell fresh with no sourness
- Have a sell-by date at least 3-5 days out
- Are wrapped tightly and sealed well
Vacuum-sealed packs help tenderloin tips retain freshness longer than traditional plastic-wrapped trays.
For the best selection, quality and price, shop at a high-volume store that has frequent turnover of their meat inventory. Properly handled tenderloin tips will retain their tenderness and flavor for several days after purchase.
Tenderloin tips provide a way to enjoy incredibly tender, lean beef without buying a whole tenderloin roast. With their small, irregular shape they gain lots of flavorful browning when seared, grilled or broiled. Their tenderness also holds up well to quick braising or simmering.
While pricier than other cuts, tenderloin tips offer great value and convenience. Just 1 pound provides multiple servings of delicious filet mignon style beef. Their versatility works for everything from quick weeknight meals to upscale dinner party fare.
For melt-in-your-mouth tender steakhouse beef without the steakhouse price tag, keep tenderloin tips in your grocery cart rotation. With proper storage in the refrigerator or freezer, you can enjoy tenderloin tips for up to five days fresh or twelve months frozen.