Coffee-Rubbed Beef Tenderloin Crostini

Coffee-Rubbed Beef Tenderloin Crostini
Photo: Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Styling: Christine Keely
Active Time:
1 hrs
Chill Time:
8 hrs
Cool Time:
15 mins
Roast Time:
25 mins
Stand Time:
1 hrs 30 mins
Total Time:
11 hrs 10 mins

During the holidays, we go all-out for every course—including the hors d'oeuvres. Start your holiday meal off on a high note with Coffee-Rubbed Beef Tenderloin Crostini. This dish epitomizes decadence, combining a few of our favorite winter flavors—coffee, cocoa, and caramelized onions—in one all-star appetizer. Our Test Kitchen notes that this starter "has the makings of a high-end steakhouse special," and we can't help but agree. Rubbing the meat with coffee and cocoa adds a subtle bitter flavor that accentuates the meat's natural sweetness—layered with peppery arugula, slices of toasted baguette, and silky caramelized onion butter, this holiday appetizer hits all the right chords. Pair these crostini with a glass of red wine for the full steakhouse experience.

All it takes is a little planning (marinate the beef the day before; prepare the butter ahead of time) to pull off this stunning holiday appetizer. The caramelized onion butter can be made up to 3 days in advance. You may want to make a double batch, though—once you get a taste of this sweet, sherry-spiked butter, you'll be spreading it on everything, from toast to sandwiches. Did we mention that leftover tenderloin makes an awesome sandwich the next day? It has the potential to become your new favorite holiday leftover meal (yes, it may just dethrone your beloved post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich).


  • 1 teaspoon ground espresso beans or finely ground coffee beans

  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa 

  • 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided 

  • 2 ¼ teaspoons black pepper, divided

  • 1 (1 ½-lb.) center-cut beef tenderloin, tied and patted dry

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, divided 

  • 1 medium-size sweet onion, chopped (about 1 ½ cups)

  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz.) dry sherry 

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

  • 24 (½-inch-thick) baguette slices (from 2 [8-oz.] baguettes), toasted

  • 2 cups baby arugula 

  • 1 tablespoon flaky sea salt


  1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil; set an ovenproof wire rack inside baking sheet. Stir together espresso, cocoa, and 2 teaspoons each of the kosher salt and pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly all over beef. Place on wire rack. Chill, uncovered, at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.

  2. Remove beef from refrigerator; let stand at room temperature 1 hour. Meanwhile, melt ¼ cup of the butter in a small pot over low. Set aside remaining ¾ cup butter to soften. Add onion and remaining ½ teaspoon kosher salt to melted butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, until deep golden, about 30 minutes. Add sherry and remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring often, until sherry has mostly evaporated, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.

  3. Cut softened ¾ cup butter into ½-inch pieces. Add to onion mixture, and stir gently until combined. Cover; chill until ready to use. (Onion-butter mixture can be made and chilled up to 3 days in advance. Let stand at room temperature about 20 minutes to soften before using.)

  4. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Add beef; cook until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes total. Return beef to wire rack on baking sheet. Roast until a thermometer inserted in center of meat registers 115ºF, 25 to 30 minutes. Let stand 30 minutes or up to 1 hour. Thinly slice beef on an angle.

  5. Spread about 1 ½ teaspoons onion-butter mixture onto each baguette slice. (Reserve remaining onion-butter mixture for another use.) Top each slice with 2 or 3 baby arugula leaves and 1 beef slice. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt before serving.

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