Food History

The Pillsbury Bake-Off Is Back After a Three-Year Hiatus

August 17, 2017

For the past three years, the fate of the Pillsbury Bake-Off was horrifically uncertain. “We are currently assessing how this 67-year-old contest comes to life in a relevant way for a new generation of home chefs,” a curt statement on the Pillsbury site read just a few months ago.

Thankfully, that's changed. Earlier this week, Pillsbury announced that the contest, following this three-year hiatus, would be returning this fall.

“The Pillsbury Bake-Off is referred to among contestants as the Super Bowl,” our very own Amanda Hesser wrote in The New York Times in 2000. “It is one of the oldest American cooking contests and by far the most prestigious.” She paid a visit to the 99 finalists of the storied contest in San Francisco, where they’d all congregated to win the coveted cash prize of $1 million.

Shop the Story

The prestige is due, in no small part, to that giant wad of capital. But since it launched in 1949, the contest has also created a model for empowering home cooks who may not have found a platform otherwise. The Bake-Off predates any Top Chef or Chopped series; long before these shows turned nobodies into celebrities, the Bake-Off provided an opportunity for home cooks to have their recipes—like the Tunnel of Fudge—etched into history.

I'm afraid Pillsbury hasn't publicized too many details about the upcoming iteration of the contest yet, though the company has stated that it's partnered with the Food Network to “reimagine” the Bake-Off. The landing page for the contest is pretty sparse, and the company is urging would-be entrants to return to the site October 1 when more details about rules and locations are announced. We’ll keep you abreast of any updates as they arrive, but, for now, save the date.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Golden Gate Dessert Bars, a name Pillsbury dubbed my apricot, coconut, walnut bars because I hailed from San Francisco. Being in the Bake-Off is a heady experience, and I'm guessing that's why the contest has held its allure for all these years.”
— Greg P.

Have any memories of the Pillsbury Bake-Off? A favorite recipe? Let us know in the comments.

Listen Now

On our new weekly podcast, two friends separated by the Atlantic take questions and compare notes on everything from charcuterie trends to scone etiquette.

Listen Now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Mary Beth Protomastro
    Mary Beth Protomastro
  • JR
  • Greg Patent
    Greg Patent
  • HalfPint
  • BerryBaby
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.


Mary B. October 1, 2017
Pillsbury announced the rules for the next Bake-Off this morning, and some changes are quite drastic. Among them: The company is no longer choosing 100 finalists to compete at one location; instead, it's choosing four finalists to compete on a Food Network show. And the grand prize is dropping from $1 million to $50,000 and a kitchen makeover.
Mary Beth Protomastro
Author, "Smart Cookies: How Home Cooks Became Finalists in the Pillsbury Bake-Off® Contest"
JR August 29, 2017
I enjoyed reading Ellie Matthews memoir of her time at the Bake-Off: The Ungarnished Truth: A Cooking Contest Memoir. I still make her winning recipe for dinner....Salsa Couscous Chicken.
Greg P. August 27, 2017
I was in the 10th Bake-Off as a teenager in 1958. During the first 16 years or so, Pillsbury's Best All-Purpose Flour (bleached) was the only required ingredient. Of the 100 finalists, 65 were Seniors (over 19 years of age), 15 were Brides (19 years of age but not 31 on March 1, 1958 and married after Feb. 1, 1956), and 20 were Juniors (12 through 18-years of age). I was a junior. I won second prize of $1,000 ( a handsome sum at the time, enough to loan to my parents for a down payment on our first home). My recipe? Golden Gate Dessert Bars, a name Pillsbury dubbed my apricot, coconut, walnut bars because I hailed from San Francisco. Being in the Bake-Off is a heady experience, and I'm guessing that's why the contest has held its allure for all these years.
HalfPint August 17, 2017
My vague memories of the Pillsbury Bake-Off was a lot of cakes and caramel (not sure why) and always some controversy over the Winner. In particular, some sort of chicken dish that involved frozen waffles and pancake syrup. I couldn't for the life of me figure out how this recipe won. And I wasn't alone given the reviews of this recipe.
BerryBaby August 19, 2017
I remember that winner and I agree.