The Real Reason Filet Mignon Is So Expensive

Just the thought of a filet mignon basted in rosemary and garlic-infused butter can make your mouth water. This cut of beef is considered one of the most tender; its very name translates to tender or dainty fillet (via the Texas Steak Warehouse). U.K.-based Buy a Cow suggests that it is probably the most tender cut of steak you can buy from a butcher. Unsurprisingly, it is also one of the most expensive.

What makes it so tender? The filet mignon comes from a part of the cow called the tenderloin that is high up and doesn't get much exercise. The muscle it is cut from is not a weight-bearing muscle, and contains only a small amount of connective tissues, which is why this steak is so tender. There are only two tenderloins on a steer or heifer, and only about 500 grams (or a little over 1 pound of filet mignon) per animal. While there are other steaks that come from the tenderloin, like Chateaubriand, filet mignon is the most tender. The technical name of the bigger piece of meat filet mignon comes from is the beef tenderloin. Cut it into 1-inch steaks, across the grain of the meat, and you've got filet mignon.

So why is filet mignon so expensive?

Here's why filet mignon is so expensive

Filet mignon is the gold standard in steaks, but when you consider the small amount that can be produced per cow, you realize that the short supply of this tender meat creates a greater demand, and thus a higher price. Tender cuts of steak, which include the filet mignon, make-up just 8 percent of the meat on a cow. This means 92 percent of the meat from a cow is significantly cheaper and produces less of a profit (via The Spruce Eats). 

While some chefs mock this cut because it is less flavorful than steaks that have lots of marbling, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association continues to give the filet mignon status of "most frequently menued" steak by full-service restaurants (via Chicago Tribune). My Chicago Steaks seems to agree with this assessment. Priced anywhere from $20 to $30 a pound, the tender texture of the filet mignon makes it a chef favorite. What it lacks in flavor serves as a blank canvas for chefs and novice cooks to dress it up and flavor it with spices, bacon fat, herbs, and sauces.   

Filet mignon may be expensive, but if you have room for it in your budget (and know how to cook it properly), this tender cut of beef will not disappoint.