Filet Mignon vs Ribeye: What’s the Difference?

Steaks bring a beefy, savory, juicy, and tender taste to our mouths. You can have steak on any occasion, and it’s a dish that will never go out of style. Well, at least that is what steak lovers would tell you.

There are lots of steaks that you can choose, and even though they come from the same animal, the result in tenderness and taste of steak can be quite different. Thus, choosing the right one can be baffling.

The most common and popular kinds of steaks are the filet mignon and ribeye. Both are high-end steaks. But before you splurge on them, you should know which type of steak suits your preference.

In this article is a complete guide done by putting the two in a battle of the best steak: Ribeye vs. filet mignon.

Where do these Beef Cuts Originate?

It may be challenging to know what is best, but when you want a good steak, you need to know more about the steaks themselves.

The ribeye and filet mignon are two perfect steak options, and both are delicious and expensive. Even though these two may have the same beefy look and taste pleasant, many elements make them different from one another.

But, before we talk about the taste and texture of these two, let’s see where they source these beef cuts.

Filet Mignon

filet mignon

The Filet mignon gets its name from the two French words: filet meaning “thick slice” and mignon, meaning “dainty.”

From its name itself, you can already tell that the filet mignon cut is small. This small cut comes from the back rib cage section of a cow, and located neat the short loin, called the tenderloin.

The whole part of the meat is the tenderloin, while the tenderloin’s slices are called filet mignons. That’s a part of the cow that they barely use, and the muscle does not do much work; thus, the connective tissue does not become toughened, resulting in the well-known tenderness of the filet mignon.

The downside is that even though this cut is very soft, it’s low in fat, which means it lacks a beefy and juicy flavor that some people prefer. It’s the reason why the filet mignon is usually served with a sauce to add some flavor to the meat.

Ribeye

ribeye steak

On the other hand, the ribeye, as stated, comes from the rib area of the cow, just like the prime rib. However, you can differentiate the two by the large piece of bone visible in the prime rib.

Even though this section is not weight-bearing, it still gets a little exercise making it tender but not as delicate as the filet mignon steak.

The ribeye is also known for its incredible fat marbling. The marbled meat has a high-fat content, which gives the ribeye rich flavors and juicy meat. Juiciness in the flesh is something some people prefer over tenderness.

Filet Mignon vs. Ribeye: What’s the Difference?

Indeed, by learning which part of the cow the particular meat comes from, you already know the difference between the filet mignon steak and the ribeye steak.

First, they do not come from the same cut in the cow, which means they vary in muscle and amount of fat. These are the two elements that distinguish the steak’s tenderness and taste.

But aside from that, there are still more differences that exist between these cuts of steak. To make the right steak choice, you still need to know a little more about them, such as their appearance and texture.

Table Comparison Between the Two

This table gives you a quick look at the defining features of the two high-end cuts of meat.

 Filet MignonRibeye
AppearanceHeavy marblesFine grain muscle
Steak CutSmall CutsLarge Cuts
TextureSoft textureTender texture
TasteLow in fat; lacks juicinessHigh in fat; very juicy
Cooking MethodsCooked in low temperatureCooked in high temperature

Appearance Differences

ribeye-filet-mignon-appearance

The first noticeable difference is the inequality in size. When you put the two side by side, you can see that the ribeye cut is more massive compared to the small “dainty” cuts of the filet mignon. The filet mignon is often half or one-fourth the size of a typical ribeye cut.

Another thing to consider in its appearance is the visible fats on the meat. The low-fat content of filet mignons runs through in thin lines while the larger quantities of fat are more evident in the ribeye cuts.

Texture

The textures of the two steaks also differ because they come from two distinct muscles and carry different amounts of fat.

In a filet mignon, there are fewer connective tissues and fats because the tenderloin is an area that’s rarely exhausted by the cow. For this reason alone, the filet mignon is incredibly soft, and hard parts to chew are scarce. Because of that, the filet mignon has a buttery texture that seems to “melt in your mouth.”

The ribeye steak per contra may not be as soft as the filet mignon steak, but because of the high content of fat marbling in its meat, it becomes a juicy and tender cut of beef that many appreciate.

Taste

Again, due to it being low in fat, the taste of filet mignon steak is less greasy and also lacks savory and juicy flavor. That’s why filet mignons are usually served with sauce or wrapped around in bacon to add some flavor to the meat.

The ribeye steak’s one of the richest and beefiest steak cuts. In contrast to the filet mignon steak, it has more fat; this is where a lot of the distinctive flavor of the ribeye comes. Meanwhile, if you compare the ribeye vs. NY strip (strip steak), the ribeye also has a finer grain.

People who don’t fancy the rich flavors and juicy taste of beef may appreciate this soft and low fat cut. But to those who do, they might prefer the ribeye steak instead.

Cost

Despite lacking in juiciness, the filet mignon is an expensive cut of steak. Steak lovers like that it feels luxurious and comfortable to cut with a fork steak that they are willing to pay a few extra bucks to enjoy it.

With that said, ribeye steaks are not necessarily considered cheap but are still more affordable than filet mignons. They also come in more significant cuts when compared to filet mignons’ cut.

Cooking Methods

ribeye-and-filet-mignon-cooked

Another way these two types of steak differ is in their cooking methods.

The small lean cuts of the filet mignons are faster to cook in a pan. And as mentioned earlier, they’re usually wrapped around in bacon strips or served with sauce.

Filet mignons are best when cooked no more than medium-rare, but some may prefer them to be well done. To maintain its softness, the cook must be attentive when cooking it.

It is crucial to conduct heat slowly when it comes to filet mignons because it is more prone to drying. High temperatures can cause the filet mignon steak to lose its softness in its meat, and to avoid this, low or less-than-medium heat is required.

On the other hand, since the ribeye steak has a naturally higher fat content, you can cook it at a higher temperature.

The technical definition of ribeye steaks goes along with its naturally rich and juicy flavor. As it rarely needs seasoning, a small amount of salt and pepper is enough to add to its steak flavor. And although some accompany the ribeye steaks with sauces, you can also enjoy the steak on its own since it is juicy and rich in flavor.

Some people like them rare or medium-rare, but they are also tasty when cooked well done.

You can also choose to grill both filet mignon steak and ribeye steak, but you must treat each cut differently since the ribeye possesses more fat than the filet mignon.

Which Cut is Easier to Grill?

steak rib

Now let’s talk about another way people like to eat their steaks: grilling.

Just like cooking, the ribeye and the filet mignon have their unique ways to be handled on the grill.

When you grill a filet mignon cut, you only need a sufficient temperature to turn it brown. Just like in a pan, the filet mignon cooks fast, and it is still essential to keep a close eye as overcooking the steak can dry up the filet mignon, which leads it to lose tenderness.

On the brighter side, unlike the ribeye, there’s less to no risk of flare-ups because the filet mignon is low in fat.

The ribeye steak requires more attention when it comes to grilling. Its high-fat content makes it prone to flare-ups from melted fats. Thus, you should keep a watchful eye and cover the steak while grilling. But this does not mean you should avoid doing it.

Unless you are an expert at grilling and avoiding flare-ups, filet mignons are more accessible and easier to grill.

Final Thoughts

Ribeye and filet mignon steaks are undeniably delicious. Budget wise, both are expensive cuts, but filet mignons are noticeably more costly than ribeyes. At the same time, filet mignon steaks are perfect for texture, while ribeyes are known for the juicy and tender flavor.

If you prefer softer meat with a less savory taste, then filet mignons are for you, but if you think that flavor is crucial in your steak, then go for the ribeye steak instead.

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