Steak au Poivre (How to cook filet mignon steak in a pan)

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Filet Mignon au Poivre... make it yourself at home!

A couple days ago, I posted a tutorial on how to butcher a whole beef tenderloin (PiSMO) into filet mignon steaks.  I usually do this about 3 times a year… mainly when we have company over for dinner, and typically for Christmas Eve dinner.  My most favorite method for preparing filet mignon is based on Alton Brown’s recipe for Steak au Poivre.  For the most part, I follow his technique exactly, but I substitute a few ingredients in the sauce.  (His sauce calls for heavy cream and cognac… I don’t have cognac laying around… so I normally use whiskey instead.  Also, I will use half and half instead of heavy cream sometimes… it depends on what is in the fridge!)

To make the sauce, you can use either Whiskey or Cognac

You can make this in any skillet or frying pan, but I really recommend using a cast iron skillet.  Although this is often considered an “old school” type of cooking pan, I LOVE cast iron for cooking meats.  The pan gets nice and hot, heats evenly – and you always get a perfect sear.  I got my Lodge 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet at Walmart for about $25.  It comes pre-seasoned, so you don’t have to worry about seasoning the surface… you just maintain the pan by scrubbing it out with hot water, and occasionally rubbing it down with some cooking oil.  The 12 inch skillet is perfect for making anywhere from 4-6 filet mignon steaks.  I also have a Lodge 10-inch Cast Iron Skillet that I use to make smaller portions (like 2-3 steaks) – and this size is also great for making baking amazing cornbread with crispy golden edges.

Steak au Poivre:

  • 4 filet mignon steaks, 1.5 inches thick
  • 1 T. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 T. olive oil
  • salt
  • 2 T. whole peppercorns
  • 1 c. half and half or heavy cream
  • 1/3 c. whiskey (or cognac)

1.  Season both sides of your filet mignon with the salt.  (I normally like to use either pink Himalayan salt or sea salt.)

2.  Place the peppercorns into a sandwich bag, and pound with a mallet or rolling pin to crush.  (Normally, I prefer to use black tellicherry peppercorns for this recipe… but I found a bag of mixed peppercorns at Home Goods a few weeks ago that I wanted to try out, so that’s what you are seeing here.)

3.  Dip both sides of the steak into the crushed peppercorns to coat.

4.  Heat the butter and olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat.

5.  Place the steaks in the pan, and leave them to cook (undisturbed) for 4 minutes (for medium rare).  (Normally I use a large 12″ cast iron skillet when I cook 4+ steaks… but for dinner tonight, it was just the two of us… so I used my smaller 10″ cast iron skillet.)

6.  Flip the steaks over, and cook another 4 minutes (undisturbed).  (Four minutes per side should give you a perfect medium rare after resting.  Add an extra minute or two per side if you like them to be more well done.)

7.  Remove the steaks to a plate, and cover with foil.

8.  Meanwhile, turn OFF the heat.  Pour the half and half or cream into the pan carefully, as it will sizzle and steam.  Once the sizzling has subsided, add the whiskey or cognac.

9.  Turn the heat back on to medium, and stir the sauce while cooking until thickened.  (Cook at least 2-3 minutes to make sure that most of the alcohol has cooked off.)

10.  Add the steaks back to the pan, and turn to coat.

11.  Drizzle some of the whiskey cream sauce over the top of each filet, and serve immediately.



  1. Jason Lam says:

    That sure does look great. I now need to get a seasoned pan.

    • Mika Mika says:

      You can get one at walmart or target RIGHT NOW if you want… or you can easily buy one on Amazon. I like the Lodge brand the best… they come pre-seasoned.

  2. Vickie says:

    I cannot wait to try this recipe. I typically overcook all meat, much to the dismay of my family.

    • Mika Mika says:

      I know, overcooking meat is one of my biggest pet peeves and fears… it’s always better to be slightly underdone than overcooked. So as long as you start with steaks that are 1.5 inches thick, and cook over medium heat, 4 minutes per side (plus a 5 minute rest) should do it. If under-cooked, you can always pop it in the pan with the sauce and cook a little bit longer… or microwave for about 30 seconds.

  3. Suzie says:

    I love the taste of butter, but find that I burn it when searing meats; maybe I’m using too high a heat? I do use a Lodge pan so I will try this next time, lower heat. Thanks for the pics.


    • Mika Mika says:

      That’s why you don’t use butter by itself when cooking the steak. You use unsalted butter + olive oil, which will raise the smoke point up a bit. Also, you don’t want to turn the heat up too high – medium to medium high should be good enough. If you cook on high, then your pan will get too hot and your butter definitely will burn.

  4. Bry says:

    Hi, it will be my first time to cook filet mignon next week in my butchery class, and we were only given butter (not mentioned if unsalted), tarragon, white wine vinegar, salt, pepper, an egg, mushrooms, string beans, carrots for our ingredients. We were tasked to come up with as many various dishes as we can. I would really appreciate if you could give me tips! Thank you so much! Would like to try your recipe as it looks amazing, but then again we won’t be the others ingredients needed.

    • Mika Mika says:

      A simple filet (seasoned with salt and pepper) served with a tarragon butter sauce (with a splash of white wine vinegar) sounds great. Have you ever made mashed carrots? It’s kind of like mashed potatoes… I had it in a French restaurant once and it was wonderful. Maybe something like that?

  5. BostonHack says:

    Hi Mika,

    Was there a reason you switched the order of the cognac and the cream?

    • Mika Mika says:

      You mean compared to the AB recipe? Mainly I don’t like adding alcohol to a hot pan… so I do it the opposite. You can do it either way, but I think it’s safer to do it in reverse.

  6. John says:


    Just wondering if you could suggest some side dishes to have with the steak au poivre.


  7. Sharon says:

    I made this tonight minus the whiskey, I didn’t have any on hand, Everyone really enjoyed dinner :0)

    • Mika Mika says:

      Awesome! :)

  8. AKABJ says:

    The posts I’m reading are a few years old, I hope this reply makes it to you.
    I purchased an “extreme trim” Choice tenderloin from Costco for $17.79/lb., using your instructions (compliments to AB) I got the following results from 4.7lb of tenderloin.
    7- 1″+ tenderloins (abut. 8 oz. ea.)
    1- 10oz “wing” roast
    10+ oz. consisting of 9- 1/4″ medallions (for a quick sauté)
    10+ oz. of lean trimmings (wing) for stroganoff, burgundy, whatever.

    waste? …… -2 oz.

    • Mika Mika says:

      You’re welcome! Glad I could help. :)


  1. [...] at a restaurant, prepared with tender beef and fresh ingredients.  What a difference!When I make filet mignon steaks, I usually butcher a whole beef tenderloin (it’s much cheaper and more affordable to make [...]