Learn step by step how to make a smoked beef tenderloin on a Pit Boss pellet grill and why this is such a great way to prepare this ultimate beef roast.
How to Prepare a Beef Tenderloin for the Pit Boss Pellet Grill
Plan to trim and salt your beef tenderloin the night before you smoke it on your Pit Boss.
This is also a great time to prepare the horseradish cream in the recipe below ahead of time so you have one less thing to worry about the next day.
Trim the Fat and Silverskin
If your beef tenderloin comes fully trimmed, great, if not…you will need to do a little work before seasoning it and throwing it on the Pit Boss.
Use a good boning or filet knife like our favorite one from iMarku to first remove the silver skin from the top of the beef tenderloin.
This will allow you to better see where the chain attaches to the tenderloin. The tenderloin chain is the fatty piece of meat that runs along the side of the main tenderloin.
But we want to remove it for our purposes for the main event.
Pull the chain away from the tenderloin and then cut it off. You will need to do this on both sides, although one side is usually a lot bigger than the other.
Then remove any remaining silverskin and fatty pieces until you have a nice cleaned up beef tenderloin in front of you.
If you have the time we highly recommend dry brining your beef tenderloin overnight.
The best way to do it is to set up a wire rack on a baking tray. Here is a great set if you don’t already own this must-have combo.
It works great for dry brining all sorts of things including your thanksgiving turkey.
Use good KOSHER salt and apply a fair amount to the beef tenderloin on all sides. You can always brush off the extra in the morning but you want plenty of salt to penetrate overnight.
If you want to use a quality beef rub for dry brining your beef tenderloin, we are big fans of Bad Byron’s Butt Rub Seasoning on smoked beef because it is heavy on flavor, and has no sugar.
It also works great anytime you are reverse searing, like we plan to do later, and you don’t want a sugary rub to burn at those higher smoking temperatures.
Once you’ve applied a healthy amount of kosher salt or beef rub, place the beef on the wire rack so you have airflow around the tenderloin and then place it in the refrigerator overnight.
Tuck and Tie
The next day, take the beef tenderloin out of the refrigerator and keep it on the wire rack so you keep a good amount of air circulating around the meat.
You can keep it on the counter for up to two hours while you season it and start the Pit Boss so that it comes up closer to room temperature before you start smoking.
You’ll notice one end of the beef tenderloin is much thicker than the other.
We are going to tuck the thin “tail” underneath and tie it so that the tenderloin is a more even thickness from end to end and therefore cooks more evenly throughout.
You can use some simple butchers twine to keep it in place.
If the rest of the beef tenderloin is more flat than tubular, take some more twine and tie it around every inch or so to help the meat maintain its shape.
This will allow it to cook more evenly like a round roast rather than a flat steak.
The Best Seasonings for Smoking Beef Tenderloin on a Pit Boss
When it comes to an expensive cut of meat like a beef tenderloin, you want to keep the seasonings fairly simple and let the meat shine through.
For our recipe below, we are going to use fresh minced garlic and coarse fresh cracked pepper.
Then, while the beef tenderloin is smoking, we will baste it with a rosemary infused butter to keep it moist and give it some extra flavor and brown color.
If you don’t care for rosemary, just use straight butter.
Ideally use a HIGH smoke point oil to help the garlic and pepper adhere to the meat such as avocado or grapeseed oil, especially if you plan to reverse sear at the end of the cook as we go into detail on below.
The Best Wood Pellets for Smoking a Beef Tenderloin on a Pit Boss Pellet Grill
You have a lot of freedom when it comes to choosing the right wood pellets to smoke your Pit Boss beef tenderloin.
Mesquite and hickory will give a very aggressive smoke flavor.
Alternatively, you can also go for a milder smoke flavor by choosing oak or fruitwood pellets.
Pecan, apple, beech, alder, and cherry all give great results on smoked beef tenderloin.
Don’t forget you can mix them up too to create your own custom blend.
That’s one of the great things about a Pit Boss pellet grill!
For a straightforward smoke right out of the bag, we are big fans of Bear Mountain Red and White Smoky Oak Pellets
For the best results, store your unused pellets in a sealed room temperature container like this 20 lb pellet container rather than in the Pit Boss hopper outside.
Pellets do not last forever, but will definitely last a LOT longer if stored indoors in a quality airtight container.
How to Smoke a Beef Tenderloin on a Pit Boss Pellet Grill
We have previously covered how to season a Pit Boss, how to start a Pit Boss, as well as how to troubleshoot the smoke level of your pellet grill.
So if you need a more in-depth review on how to use your Pit Boss for the first time, check those articles out first!
But below is a brief overview of how a Pit Boss pellet grill works and how to start it up properly to prepare to smoke a beef tenderloin.
How a Pit Boss Pellet Grill Works
In order to cook ANYTHING well on a Pit Boss pellet grill, you need to first have a basic understanding of how a pellet grill works.
***Completely New to Using a Pellet Grill? No Worries!****
Hop over and check out this Complete Guide to Understanding How a Pellet Grill Works if you are interested in learning more in depth. We’ll be here when you get back!***
Add your Hardwood Pellets
First, you add hardwood pellets into the side hopper.
The Pit Boss pellet grill automatically feeds these small wood pellets via an auger mechanism to a fire pot where they are burned up, providing both heat and smokey flavor.
The pellet grill automatically controls the flow of pellets depending on your temperature setting so that you maintain an even temperature throughout the entire cook.
How to Start up the Pit Boss Pellet Grill
- Fill your hopper with pellets as described above.
- Make sure the fire pot is cleaned out from the last cook and not full of ashes. You can remove it from the bottom and dump or vacuum it out and then put back and clip into place.
- Plug in and start up the pellet grill, keeping the lid open. Set the temperature dial to “Smoke” and press the “Power” button.
- If there are no pellets in the auger or firepot yet, only in the hopper, you need to now hold the “Prime” button until you hear pellets begin to drop into the firepot.
- The “Prime” feature on a Pit Boss pellet grill speeds up the auger so that pellets fill it quickly and get to your fire pot before the pellet grill “times out” from a lack of pellets coming into the fire pot.
- Once pellets are in the firepot, stop holding the “Prime” button and wait about 5-7 minutes with the lid open for a torchy burner lighting sound. This means the fire rod has come up to temperature and has ignited the pellets. At this point, a more significant amount of smoke will begin coming out of the pellet grill. This means the pellets are ignited and the pellet grill is working. Now you can close the lid.
- Close the lid and change temperature setting to 350°F. Pit Boss recommends always preheating to this temperature FIRST, even if you are eventually going to cook low and slow in the 200°-300° range.
- This will take about 10-15 minutes to preheat the grill.
- Using a good bristle free grill brush, clean off the grill grates.
- Now adjust the temperature to where you need it to cook your food. In our case, drop the temperature to 250°F for the beef tenderloin.
Why Bristle Free Grill Brushes?
Check out our Ultimate Guide to How to Keep your Family Safe by using ONLY Bristle Free Grill Brushes, along with a selection of some of our favorites!
What Temperature do you Smoke a Beef Tenderloin on a Pit Boss Pellet Grill?
After preheating, we recommend initially setting up the Pit Boss to cook at 250°F.
This seems to be the sweet spot where its low enough that the outside doesn’t overcook but also high enough that the smoked beef tenderloin doesn’t cook for so long that it dries out.
Watch the Internal Temperature Closely
You HAVE to use a good instant read meat thermometer to know where the internal temperature is of your smoked beef tenderloin while it’s cooking on the Pit Boss.
Ideally you want a good leave in probe thermometer like the Thermopro as well as a second instant read to spot check different points of thickness along the roast.
While we have used and recommended ThermoPro for years, lately we have also become big fans of the MEATER leave in thermometer.
It is extremely accurate and has an incredible 165 foot bluetooth range and works right with your smartphone so you don’t need to carry a separate controller around with you like many other remote thermometers require.
In fact, the thermometer itself is COMPLETELY WIRELESS, so no more awkward wires running out of the side of your smoker!
It’s got a great free app that is constantly being updated and even has an algorithm to predict how much longer your type of meat will take to cook based on cooking temperature, target temperature, and current internal temperature.
It’s like a GPS for your meat!
Anyways, back to our Pit Boss beef tenderloin…
We are going to slowly bring the internal temperature up to about 105-110°F, then crank the heat as hot as we can to reverse sear the smoked beef tenderloin until the internal temperature hits about 120°F and then remove it from the Pit Boss.
Perfect medium rare in the center means a FINAL internal temperature of about 130-135°F, and a good rule of thumb is to pull big roasts like this when they are 10°F shy of your target temperature.
Once you switch over to the reverse searing phase, (more on that below), and are rolling the smoked beef tenderloin around over a hot grill it’s much easier to use an instant read thermometer rather than the leave in probe kind.
We are particular fans of this one from ThermoPro because of its durability and affordable price.
So keep it handy and use it often.
How Long Does it Take to Smoke a Beef Tenderloin on a Pit Boss Pellet Grill?
A general guide is that it will take about 20-30 minutes per pound to smoke a beef tenderloin at 250°F up to 110°F.
So plan on a 3 lb beef tenderloin to take about 60-90 minutes to initially smoke during the “Low” portion of the cook.
Then we will crank the heat for another 3-5 minutes depending how long it takes to raise the internal temperature the rest of the way up to 120-125°F.
Then you will need to let the meat rest for about 15-20 minutes after cooking it before carving.
Unless you want those delicious juices running all over your cutting board instead of staying in the meat where you want them, you need to set aside time for the meat to rest.
Reverse Searing a Smoked Beef Tenderloin on a Pit Boss
“Reverse Searing” is just a fancy term for searing your meat at the very end, once it is pretty much all the way cooked through, in order to get a nice crispy exterior crust that you sometimes just can’t get from low and slow smoking alone.
In this case, we are not technically going to sear the beef tenderloin like we might do with a steak in a ripping hot cast iron pan like we did with our smoked ribeye steak recipe.
Rather, we are going to crank the temperature of our Pit Boss up as high as it will go right at the very end of cooking, and only for a few minutes, in order to get a nice, golden brown crust on the outside of our smoked beef tenderloin without overcooking the inside.
If your Pit Boss has a DIRECT HEAT option, then you can switch thison and move your beef tenderloin over above the heat like you might do on a gas propane burner.
How to Reverse Sear your Smoked Beef Tenderloin on a Pit Boss
If you wish to reverse sear the meat, you will want to smoke it at 250°F only until it reaches an internal temperature of about 110°F. At this point it will still be very, very rare in the center.
Next, you will turn up the temperature setting on your Pit Boss to “High”, or the highest temperature setting it has available, depending on your model.
If you have the Direct heat, option, move the beef over the exposed heat and turn it frequently.
Make sure you have plenty of pellets in your hopper for this part as it will burn through them quickly at these high temps.
You will need to watch your beef tenderloin VERY closely at this point as it may only need 3-5 minutes total once the Pit Boss comes fully up to the new high temperature.
Watch for the color to turn from grayish to medium-dark brown, and whatever you do, do not leave it unattended to burn or over cook!
Make sure to turn frequently and continuously spot check with your instant read thermometer.
Once the internal temperature has reached 120-125°F, remove it from the Pit Boss and place it on a cutting board.
Remember, it will continue to rise another 10°F as it rests after you remove it.
DO NOT cover or wrap in aluminum foil or it will overcook beyond this level from its own residual heat.
Using Grill Grates to Reverse Sear your Beef Tenderloin on a PIt Boss
If you are using an older model Pit Boss pellet grill that doesn’t have a high heat or direct grilling option, and finding it hard to get that high heat needed for searing, try laying a couple of Grill Grates over a section of the RIGHT side of grill.
These work great for creating a hot searing station on a pellet grill using the ambient heat the pellet grill is already creating.
You can then move your smoked beef tenderloin over to the Grill Grates, with the flat side of the Grill Grates up, and roll it around and cook it like you would on a hot flat top griddle.
How to Carve and Serve a Pit Boss Smoked Beef Tenderloin
You will then remove the smoked beef tenderloin from the hot Pit Boss and let it rest.
Let the roast rest for 20-30 minutes before carving.
Carving the Smoked Beef Tenderloin
Although we tucked and tied the tail, and mostly slow smoked the beef tenderloin for ideal even cooking, the portions closer to the ends will still be more done than the very center.
This is nice because as you slice you can give the more done pieces on the ends to those that prefer them.
Then give the more medium rare slices from the center to those that prefer their meat less done.
Use a good meat slicing knife and cut the smoked beef tenderloin into nice thick slices based on how many guests you are serving.
We particularly like this meat slicing knife from Mairico.
What Other Foods Can I Smoke on my Pit Boss?
Looking for some more inspiration for things to smoke?
Check out some of our favorite recipes below that can easily be modified to be done on any grill or smoker.
- Traeger Prime Rib
- Pit Boss Beef Brisket
- Perfect Smoked London Broil
- Smoked Ribeye Roast
- Hot and Fast Pellet Grill Beef Brisket
- Smoked Corned Beef
- Smoked Ribeye Steaks
- Smoked Filet Mignon
- Pellet Grilled Steak
- Perfect Grilled Hamburgers
- Smoked Eye of Round Roast Beef
- Smoked Flank Steak
- Traeger Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Cream
- Honey Smoked Salmon
- Smoked Oysters in a Garlic White Wine Sauce
- Smoked Scallops with Lemon Butter Sauce
- Smoked Lobster Tails
- Honey Smoked Tilapia
- Perfect Smoked Halibut
- Smoked Mahi Mahi Fillets
- Smoked Swordfish Steaks
- Smoked Crab Legs with Cajun Clarified Butter
- Smoked Mackerel with Maple Balsamic Glaze
- Smoked Catfish with Cajun BBQ Rub
- Spatchcocked Chicken on a Pellet Grill
- Pellet Grill Smoked Turkey Breast
- Pellet Grill Turkey
- Spatchcock Smoked Turkey on a Pellet Grill
- Easy Smoked Turkey Legs
- Smoked Chicken Leg Quarters
- Beer Can Chicken on a Pellet Grill
- Trash Can Turkey – OK, technically not made on a grill or smoker but one of the most fun ways there is to cook a Turkey…at over 700 degrees in only 2 hours!
- Traeger Baby Back Ribs
- Pellet Grill Smoked Pork Chops
- Smoked Fresh Holiday Ham
- Spiral Sliced Smoked Hot Dogs
- Smoked Bratwurst with Beer Braised Onions
- Gas Grilled Bratwurst
- Pellet Grilled Bratwurst
- Roasted Pig in Your Backyard
- Traeger Smoked Pulled Pork
- Traeger 3-2-1 Pork Ribs
- Masterbuilt Electric Smoker Boston Butt
- Pit Boss Pulled Pork
- Masterbuilt Baby Back Ribs
- Smoked Leg of Lamb with Guinness Marinade
- Smoked Lamb Chops with a Balsamic Butter Sauce
- Smoked Rack of Lamb with Garlic and Rosemary or Smoker
- Smoked and Pulled Lamb Shoulder with a Turkish Spice Rub
- Smoked Lamb Shanks
Other Odds and Ends
- Smoked Gouda Cheese
- Smoked Asparagus
- Smoked Cauliflower
- Sticky Smoked Sweet Potatoes
- How to Steam Tamales
- Maple Bourbon Smoked Pineapple
Pit Boss Smoked Beef Tenderloin
- Pit Boss Pellet Grill
- Pellets for smoking, preferably hickory and oak.
- Boning or Fillet Knife
- Butcher's Twine
- Wire Rack and Baking Tray
- Dual Probe Thermometer
- Instant Read Thermometer
- Small Saucepan
- Basting brush
- Cutting Board
- Meat Slicing Knife
- 1 2-4 lb Beef Tenderloin may be up to 5-8 lbs if untrimmed
- ⅓ Cup Kosher Salt
- Cooking Oil High smoke point oil like avocado or grapeseed oil
- 2 Tbsp Fresh minced garlic about 4 cloves fresh
- 2 Tbsp Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
- 1 sprig Fresh rosemary
- 1 stick Salted Butter
Horseradish Cream (optional)
- ½ cup Sour cream
- 3 Tbsp Prepared Horseradish drained
- 2 Tbsp Mayonnaise
- 1 Tbsp Stone ground or dijon mustard
- 1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 Tbsp Chives finely chopped
- ½ tsp Kosher Salt
- Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Trim the Beef Tenderloin (Day Before)
- Use a good boning or filet knife first remove the silver skin from the top of the beef tenderloin.
- This will allow you to better see where the chain attaches to the tenderloin. The tenderloin chain is the fatty piece of meat that runs along the side of the main tenderloin.
- Pull the chain away from the tenderloin and then cut it off. You will need to do this on both sides, although one side is usually a lot bigger than the other.
- Then remove any remaining silverskin and fatty pieces until you have a nice cleaned up beef tenderloin in front of you.
Dry Brine the Beef Tenderloin (Day Before)
- Place the trimmed beef on the wire rack placed on top of the baking sheet.
- Apply the kosher salt, or your favorite beef rub, to the beef tenderloin on all sides.
- Keep the beef on the wire rack so you have airflow around the tenderloin and then place it in the refrigerator overnight, or at least a minimum of 4-6 hours.
Tuck and Tie (Day of Cook)
- The next day, take the beef tenderloin out of the refrigerator and keep it on the wire rack so you keep a good amount of air circulating around the meat.
- Tuck the thin “tail” underneath and tie it with the butcher's twine so that the tenderloin is a more even thickness from end to end and therefore cooks more evenly throughout.
- If the rest of the beef tenderloin is more flat than tubular, take some more twine and tie it around every inch or so to help the meat maintain its shape.
Season the Beef Tenderloin
- Rub the tied beef tenderloin with a thin layer of the cooking oil.
- Mix the minced garlic and fresh cracked pepper together and rub generously all over the beef tenderloin on all sides.
- Leave on the wire rack on the counter for up to 2 hours to rise to room temperature while you start up the Pit Boss.
Start the Pit Boss Pellet Grill
- Remove the fire pot from the bottom of the Pit Boss and clean out any ashes left over from the last cook. Replace it and make sure it is secured in place with the clips on either side. Also, wrap the drip tray in aluminum foil to limit cleanup needed later.
- Add your chosen pellets to the hopper, start the Pit Boss pellet grill and put it on the "Smoke" setting.
- If there are no pellets in the auger, hold the "Prime" button until you hear pellets begin falling in the fire pot. This will speed up the auger to prime it full of pellets before you start preheating.
- Once the Pit boss begins to produce thick white smoke, let it run for about 5-7 minutes until the smoke turns more of a clearish blue color. This means the fire rod has fully heated up to burn the pellets more cleanly.
- Next, set the temperature to preheat the Pit Boss pellet grill to 350°F. We will drop this temperature before we start cooking.
- Fill an aluminum pan with water pan if you want to add extra moisture, and place it on the far left side of the Pit Boss pellet grill. Place a disposable bucket liner in the grease bucket as well if you want to limit cleanup later.
- Once the Pit Boss has come up to 350°F, drop the temperature on the control panel to 250° and clean the grill grates with a good grill brush and close the lid.
Smoke the Beef Tenderloin on the Pit Boss
- Once the temperature of the Pit Boss hits 250°F, place the beef in the cooking chamber with the thickest part facing towards the hotter right side. Place a temperature probe into the deepest part of the rib roast.
- Once the beef is on, melt the butter on low in a small saucepan with the rosemary floating in the butter. Keep the heat on low and baste the smoking beef tenderloin on all sides with a basting brush every 15-20 minutes.
- Cook at this temperature until the internal temperature of the beef reaches about 105-110°F.
Prepare the Horseradish Cream Sauce (optional)
- While the beef is smoking on the Pit Boss, you can also prepare the horseradish cream sauce if you wish.
- Combine all the horseradish cream sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix well to incorporate. Add extra salt and pepper as needed.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to serve with the smoked beef tenderloin later.
Reverse Sear the Smoked Beef Tenderloin on the Pit Boss
- Once the internal temperature of the smoked beef tenderloin reaches 105-110°F, turn the temperature of the Pit Boss as high as it will go, preferably to 500°F.
- If your Pit Boss has the option, open up baffle for direct heating. Frequently rotate the smoked beef tenderloin making sure to sear evenly on all sides.
- Watch closely to make sure it does not burn and cook until the internal temperature rises to about 120°F then remove from the Pit Boss.
Remove, Rest, and Slice the Smoked Beef Tenderloin
- Let the smoked beef tenderloin rest on a cutting board, uncovered for 30 minutes.
- Cut the ties off the beef.
- Slice the tenderloin in thick 1 inch slices for each guest starting at the thinnest end and working your way to the center. Only slice what you plan to serve immediately so that the peices do not dry out.
- Serve immediately with the horseradish cream sauce on the side.