Prosecutors from the office of Massachusetts' U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz have said in court they planned to send their recommendation to Holder by Oct. 31.
They would not reveal their recommendation as the Thursday deadline approached. A spokeswoman for Ortiz says the Department of Justice's death penalty process is strictly confidential.
Prosecutors have said they expect Holder - who has the ultimate say - to make his decision by the end of January.
The 20-year-old Tsarnaev is charged with using a weapon of mass destruction in the April 15 bombing, which killed three people and injured more than 260.