Filet Mignon vs. Ribeye

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Some ingredients are just so undeniably delicious in their simplest form that it makes me ponder the meaning of life. The fact that avocados fall off trees tasting like butter and ripe nectarines fill my kitchen with a swoon-worthy aroma can’t just be a coincidence, can it?

But no food proves what a magical, serendipitous world we live in quite like steak. Try as we might (and in the age of plant-based meats, believe me, we’ve tried), there’s no human-made concoction that even comes close to a juicy, well-prepared cut of beef. 

And of those, two cuts reign supreme: Filet Mignon and Ribeye. Tender, marbled, and oh-so-satisfying, only the most staunch vegetarians and vegans can resist their charms.

Yep, they’re both delicious—you don’t need me to tell you that. But if you’re not a steak aficionado, you’ve probably perused the menu for your local steakhouse or the beef selection at your favorite grocery store and wondered: What the heck is the difference between Filet Mignon and Ribeye?

Now, that’s where I come in, you know I’ve got all the details on all things kitchen and cooking. Stay with me because I’m about to spill all the hot tea on Filet Mignon vs. Ribeye. 

What Is Filet Mignon?

I staunchly believe that if a food has a French name, you can put money on the fact that it’ll be out of this world. Filet mignon certainly proves that theory. (Side note: the term “filet mignon” wasn’t actually coined by the French. The earliest recorded use of the term is in the short story “The Four Million” by American author O. Henry of “Gift of the Magi” fame.”)

Roughly translating to “dainty filet,” this petite steak comes from the core of the tenderloin region on the cow. Unlike other areas of a cow’s body, this region isn’t weight-bearing and has almost no connective tissue. The resulting lack of sinews means that filet mignon has the most tender texture of any cut of beef- full stop.

Filet Mignon also has minimal fat and mild flavor, which makes it an excellent canvas for creative flavor combos, sauces, and marinades. 

A raw filet mignon steak sits on a cutting board surrounded by rosemary and garlic.

What Is Ribeye?

If you’re looking for an easy way to remember what ribeye is, look no further than its name! The term “ribeye” refers to both its distinct appearance and the area where it comes from on the cow.

Ribeye is essentially the same cut as prime rib; it’s just sliced against the grain instead of cooked whole. It comes from the rarely worked rib area between a cow’s shoulders and loin. 

And ribeye’s signature marbling, which gives it its intensely sumptuous flavor, resembles an eye, hence the “eye” half of its name. 

Like Filet Mignon, ribeye is one of the most tender cuts of beef around. 

But unlike filet mignon, which has a mild flavor, ribeye is an absolute flavor bomb. It doesn’t need much more than salt and pepper and an attentive grill master to rock your world. 

Detail of a raw ribeye steak on a wood cutting board.

Ribeye vs. Filet Mignon: An Overview

Aside from where they come from on a cow, there are quite a few other differences between filet mignon and ribeye. We’ll explore a few of these in more detail further down.

But if you need answers STAT, here are the main things you need to know regarding ribeye vs. filet mignon.

Filet MignonRibeye Fillet
Anatomical Region of CowCentral loin region; from the little-used psoas major muscleRib area between shoulder and loin; contains 4 muscles: complexus, spinallis dorsi, longissimus dorsi, and longissimus costarum
Fat Content (Marbling)LowHigh
TendernessSo tender you could probably eat it with a spoonVery tender compared to other cuts, although not as tender as filet mignon
FlavorMildRobust
Boneless or Bone-inAlways bonelessCan be either boneless or bone-in
WeightAnywhere from 5 to 16 ounces depending on thickness of cutRange typically starts at 10 ounces and goes up to 32 ounces for a bone-in Tomahawk cut
Shape and SizeCircular with a diameter of 2-4 inchesElephant ear-shaped and about 6-10 inches long and 7 inches wide at its largest
Cost ($-$$$$)$$$$$$$
Best Ways To PrepareBroiled, pan-seared on cast iron or stainless steel, grilledPan-seared on cast iron or stainless steel, grilled, oven-baked, sous-vide, smoked
Best Accompanied By…Adding a sauce or gravy, wrapping it in baconNeeds pretty much no embellishment

Filet Mignon vs Ribeye: Taste

This analogy might not resonate with steak lovers, but I’ll go for it anyway. Think of filet mignon as tofu and ribeye as tempeh. Although they’re technically made from the same ingredients (soybeans for tofu/tempeh, beef for filet mignon/ribeye), they’re different flavor-wise and should be prepared accordingly.

Like tofu, filet mignon takes on the flavor of the ingredients you prepare it with. Since filet mignon is so low in fat, it needs a little dressing up to be exciting flavor-wise. That’s why you usually see it served with something else, like a demi-glace or peppercorn sauce. 

Ribeye, on the other hand, is like tempeh in that its natural flavor really shines through. You can add extra ingredients to shake things up if you want, but really, it’s all just icing on the cake. If you crave that quintessential beefy flavor in your steaks, or you just don’t feel like whipping up a sauce and getting fancy with the herbs and spices, ribeye is the way to go.

Side by side of a raw ribeye steak vs a raw filet mignone steak.

Filet Mignon vs. Ribeye: Texture

The texture of filet mignon is like the wine and piping hot gossip at your book club meeting: it’s what keeps everyone coming back. 

While the flavor of filet mignon isn’t anything to write home about on its own, its tender, melt-in-your-mouth texture is unmatched. Many people prefer filet mignon to ribeye for this reason alone. You can adjust flavor, but you can’t adjust your way to that crave-able filet mignon texture with another cut of steak. 

That’s not to knock the texture of ribeye, though, because it’s pretty darn tender, too. I’d rank it in second place after filet mignon. And for some steak fiends, second place is good enough if it means all it needs to be flavorful is a little salt and pepper. 

Filet Mignon vs. Ribeye: Appearance & Size

If you’re picking up steaks from the butcher for a swanky dinner party or a date night in, mixing up filet mignon and ribeye is pretty hard. Even to the most untrained of eyes, they each have a distinct appearance and differ significantly in size and shape. 

First and foremost, a serving of filet mignon appears much smaller than a serving of ribeye. I say “appears” because filet mignon is usually cut thicker than ribeye and can be as heavy as thinner-cut ribeyes, depending on where you get them. 

Size comparison of ribeye vs filet mignon side by side.

Fillet Mignon

A filet mignon steak can be anywhere from 5 ounces (sometimes dubbed “petit filets”) to 16 ounces. The weight depends mainly on the thickness of the cut. They’re always a round medallion shape with 2-4 inches diameter.

A cut piece of cooked filet mignon.

Bone In Ribeye

A serving of ribeye can vary in weight, once again depending on the thickness of the cut. They’re 8-10 ounces on the smaller end, but some bone-in ribeye varieties, like the Tomahawk cut, can be 22 ounces or more.

The best thing I can think of to compare its shape to is an elephant’s ear (the ear of the animal, not the fair food). Bone-in ribeyes are usually around 16 inches end-to-end and 8 inches wide. Still, with the more common boneless ribeyes, you can expect them to be about 5 inches wide and 7-8 inches long. 

Aside from the respective sizes and shapes of ribeye and filet mignon, their meat looks quite different at first glance. Filet mignon is almost entirely pinkish-red, with virtually no white marbling. On the other hand, ribeye has distinct swirls of white throughout, forming a shape that resembles an eye. 

A cut piece of cooked ribeye steak on a white plate.

Filet Mignon vs. Ribeye: Nutrition

In its most stripped-down form, filet mignon is healthier than ribeye.

It’s not the 1990s anymore; we know now that some fats are healthy and essential to a balanced diet. However, those healthy fats, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, are usually found in fish and veggies. 

Red meat is high in trans fats and saturated fats, which are believed to raise cholesterol. So, if you’re looking for the heart-healthy choice here, filet mignon is the way to go. It’s one of the leanest cuts of beef you can get. 

Of course, the best-tasting things are always the worst for you (like my chocolate addiction), so it should come as no surprise to anyone that ribeye is one of the fattiest cuts of beef. 

When considering which cut to choose, however, consider the fact that some people believe filet mignon needs something else paired with it to make it satisfying. Depending on what that is (like wrapping it in bacon), you could potentially cancel out any health benefits afforded by filet mignon. 

Above view of a filet mignon and ribeye steak on a wood cutting board surrounded by herbs and garlic.

Why Is Filet Mignon More Expensive Than Ribeye?

Before I had filet mignon, I always imagined it would be miles above ribeye. It’s more expensive, so it must be better. Right? Imagine my surprise when I had it for the first time and wasn’t totally blown away by it. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.

So the question must be asked: if ribeye is the clear winner in taste and almost as tender as filet mignon, why is filet mignon more expensive?

Supply and demand, baby. 

The area on a cow where filet mignon comes from is much smaller than the area where ribeye comes from. There’s simply less yield per cow for filet mignon than there is ribeye– a.k.a. low supply.

And since filet mignon is expensive, there are swaths of folks who want it just because it’s the fancy, expensive thing to eat. There’s your high demand. 

In reality, though, more expensive doesn’t necessarily equal better, and a lot of folks don’t find filet mignon worth its high price tag. 

Above view of a filet mignon and ribeye steak on a wood cutting board.

Filet Mignon vs. Ribeye vs. Sirloin

Filet mignon and ribeye aren’t the only types of steaks out there. There’s another popular cut that we haven’t touched on yet, and you may be wondering how it stacks up. Yup, we’re talking about sirloin!

Sirloin steak is actually an umbrella term for steaks that come from the sirloin region of the cow, e.g. tri-tip, T-bone, or strip steak. This region, between the ribs and the rump, sees a little more activity than the ribs or the tenderloin. The texture reflects that. It’s definitely not the toughest part of the cow, but it’s less tender than filet mignon and ribeye. 

It has less fat marbling than ribeye, which means its flavor doesn’t quite stack up against the rich flavor of ribeye. However, it’s fattier and thus more flavorful than filet mignon. 

You can’t beat its value, though. Is it the most tender steak or the most flavorful steak? No. It probably isn’t the favorite cut of any steak enthusiasts. But of the three types of steaks here, sirloin is by far the most affordable, and it still has plenty of juicy texture and robust flavor to go around. 

Above view of a filet mignon and ribeye steak on a wood cutting board surrounded by herbs and garlic.

So, What Is Better: Filet Mignon or Ribeye?

In my opinion (and keep in mind this is just that: an opinion), ribeye is the superior cut of steak.

For me, it’s a matter of value proposition. Yes, it’s not as tender as filet mignon, but it’s still super tender, and that meaty, intense flavor is why I enjoy steak in the first place. Those two things alone would make it number one for me. But the fact that it’s not as expensive as filet mignon and it’s easier to prepare just sweetens the deal. 

However, filet mignon fans often swear that nothing compares, and as far as tenderness goes, I’m inclined to agree. If its texture you’re after more than flavor, you’d probably think filet mignon is better. 

As with most of the “which one is better” discourse in the world of food, one man’s feast is another man’s fast. The only real way to know which one is better for you is to try them for yourself!

About Author

TiaGoodnight

Hey! I'm Tia, and I started this site to bring you the best information on all things kitchen so you can enjoy and elevate your everyday life.

I love trying new techniques and tools, living for the thrill of pulling off a new skill. On weekends you'll find me at the local farmer's markets or hosting friends and family for an evening of yard or card games and delicious food.

If you're looking for honest, real-world advice on all things kitchen and cooking, you're in the right place!