How Is a Filet Different From Other Cuts of Meat?

Filet mignon
Filet mignon. Carlos Davila / Getty Images

In the culinary arts, the term filet is used to indicate a boneless cut of meat, usually a tender, high-quality one. So in that sense, the word filet is a generic term, not specific to any particular cut of meat.

Nevertheless, the word filet is sometimes used as a shorthand for filet mignon, which are small boneless steaks cut from the front end of a beef tenderloin.

The word filet can also be used as a verb, in which case it refers to the act of slicing a larger primal cut into individual boneless steaks.

The word "filet" is pronounced "fill-AY" or "fee-LAY." And yet, in some countries, the word for a boneless cut of meat is spelled "fillet," with two Ls, and pronounced just like it is written: "FILL-et."

This can lead to some confusion sometimes because the word fillet is often used to specify a boneless cut of fish, or as a verb, to refer to the act of slicing the boneless side off of a fish. In the U.S., however, it's filet when speaking of meat, and fillet when speaking of fish.

Also Known As: Filet mignon (fee-LAY min-YONE)

Alternate Spellings: Fillet