The most glaring difference between filet mignon and ribeye steak is their location on the animal. Filet mignons are the small end of the tenderloin, a cut from the back of the steer located near the spine of the animal while ribeye steaks are cuts of the rib section of the cow, between the sixth and twelfth ribs.
As a steakhouse chef for over two decades, I have prepared many of these cuts for my customers. They are always asking me which of the two incredibly tender high-priced steaks is the better cut. Since I do not have a favorite, I find picking between the two nearly impossible.
In this article, I will explain the differences between these two superb cuts of beef and you can make an informed choice on which steak is your preferred cut. Let’s dive in:
Filet Mignon Vs Ribeye: What Are the Differences?
Location on the Steer
Rich Pink or Bright Red. Little or No Fat Marbling
Bright Red With Defined White Fat Steak
Approx. 0.5 lb
Approx. 0.75 - 1 lb
USD 13 - 25 per pound
USD 7 - 17 per pound
Subtle and Beefy
Intense, Buttery and Beefy
Most Tender Cut on the Animal
Pan Sear Over Medium-high Heat
Pan Sear or Grill Over High Heat
Where It Comes From
As aforementioned, rib-eye steak is comprised of the longissimus dorsi muscle located between the sixth and twelfth ribs. The beef rib is also the sub-primal cut that produces prime rib roast, another highly prized cut of beef. Ribeye steak is boneless while prime rib roast is bone in.
Filet mignon on the other hand comes from the back region of the animal near the spine. Specifically, this cut comes from the smaller end of the tenderloin steak. The tenderloin muscle along with the top loin forms the larger short loin cut.
Other steaks from the short loin include porterhouse steak, strip steak, and T-bone, all of which are top choices for steak lovers.
Ribeye steak is a bright red cut of beef with stark white ribbons of fat running all over the cut. This marbling is a significant factor in determining the quality of ribeye steak so look out for this well-defined marbling when shopping for ribeye.
Unlike ribeye steak, filet mignon is considerably less marbled and contains far fewer fat streaks if any. It should be a rich pink or bright red color with almost no visible flecks of fat. This lack of fat is a defining trait since it is the leanest cut of beef from the steer.
Ribeye steak contains a large amount of intramuscular fat evident in the fat marbling that characterizes the ribeye. Filet mignon on the other hand is very lean and renders very little fat when cooked.
The tenderloin cut, from which filet mignon steak is cut is generally fat-free and is a better choice for beef lovers who want to reduce their fat intake without cutting out beef altogether.
The average size of a ribeye steak is between 0.75 – 1 lb but you can find a steak weighing up to 3 lbs. A steer can produce between 8 and 12 ribeye steaks depending on such factors as the size of the animal and the butchering techniques employed. Some large breeds could produce as many as 14 ribeyes steaks each weighing an average of 1 pound.
Filet mignon, on average, should be about 0.5 lb. A cow produces about a pound of filet mignon in total which means this steak is a rare find. The limited quantity of filet mignon available from each cow makes this steak relatively difficult to produce commercially so it is not a common steak to find across grocery shelves.
Both ribeye and filet mignon are expensive steaks but filet mignon is considerably more expensive since so little of this cut is produced from an animal. Only a pound of filet mignon can be produced when an entire cow is butchered.
Ribeyes are considerably more available. An average of 16 pounds of ribeye can be butchered from one animal which means ribeye is going to be much cheaper than filet mignons.
Cost of ribeye per pound: $7 – $17
Cost of filet mignon per pound: $13 – $25
Flavor and Texture
Since the muscle from which ribeye is cut does not get worked much in the animal’s lifetime, the meat is incredibly easy to cook.
Ribeye steak is flavorful with a tender texture, a heavy buttery taste, and a rich beefy nuance that gives a most pleasant mouthfeel in a dining experience. The rich flavor is a product of the marbling and intramuscular fat which is responsible for cooking the meat to perfection.
Both ribeye and filet mignon are tender cuts of beef but filet mignon takes the trophy on this account The tenderloin is not a weight-bearing muscle and receives little to no strain or stress whatsoever. The filet mignon steak, therefore, contains no connective tissue and is the most tender part of the cow.
This intense tenderness is yet another reason this cut of beef is so highly sought after.
As for flavor, filet mignon has a mild subdued flavor with a soft beefy taste. Ribeye steak is definitely richer and more flavorful than a filet mignon cut.
Preparation and Cooking
I love filet mignon because I get to employ some creativity as a beef enthusiast to enrich its subtle flavor. That said, I find that with any tender cut such as these two steaks, the best cooking methods are those that will preserve the tenderness of the meat.
Cooking these steaks should, therefore, be fast to avoid drying out the meat and causing it to lose that treasured tenderness.
Filet mignon cooks fast and is best done to a medium rare doneness over a medium-high fire. I would advise cooking filet mignon in a cast iron skillet with butter or olive oil and a sprinkling of rosemary, garlic, and thyme to supplement the subtle steak flavor.
Since it is a dainty thick slice, use tongs to pan-sear it all around and in a total of five minutes, your filet mignon cut is ready. Let the steak rest, and serve.
Cooking ribeye is just as easy and fast. A ribeye cut should be cooked fast over high heat and can be pan-seared or grilled. Be careful when grilling though since ribeye contains a lot of fat and the dripping juices can create flare-ups and burn you.
You need no additional fat or oil to pan-sear a ribeye unless you want a lot of fat in your meal. A sprinkling of olive oil to your pan and the ribeye will deliver any additional fat necessary to cook the meat.
A light seasoning of salt and pepper and the incredible fat marbling will do the rest delivering a perfectly buttery, beefy, juicy steak many steak lovers pay top dollar for
1. Is Ribeye More Expensive Than Filet Mignon?
Filet mignon costs more because it is produced in very low quantities per cow and is more tender compared to ribeye.
2. Is Filet Mignon Steak the Best?
This comes down to preference but I am partial to a good ribeye simply because I love fatty meat.
3. Can You Cook Filet Mignon Like Ribeye?
Yes. The two cuts benefit from fast cooking methods but ribeye can be cooked on even higher heat and for a longer time simply because it is larger, slightly tougher, and contains enough fat to handle higher temperatures without drying out.
Both steaks, however, will easily become tough if they are cooked too long.
As I Pen Off…
Filet mignon vs ribeye is like comparing apples to oranges. In my opinion, the two steaks have some similarities but are very different steaks.
These differences will give you different dining experiences both of which are very enjoyable.
If you enjoy a rich fatty buttery beef steak then ribeye is the steak for you. If you enjoy way less fat and subtle beef flavors then filet mignon is your go-to. Bon Appetit!