About Our Contests

These are not your usual contests. We have a slightly nutty system—but it works.

You're competing for fame and glory: We'll be shouting the winner's name from the rooftops! (And by rooftops, we mean featuring the winning recipe on our site and in one of our email newsletters.) Remember, all contest finalists get prime placement in our recipe search and are always most likely to be featured. In certain instances (when stated by the contest), you're also competing for a prize! More on that below.

Official Contest Rules

Here's how our contests work:

  1. Every four months, on the 15th, we'll solicit recipes for different themes (e.g., Your Best Shrimp Recipe, Your Best Chilled Soup, Your Best Summer Cocktail). This means, in 2019, contests will launch on 12:00 PM ET on January 15th, April 15th, July 15th, and October 15th. Please note that due to a fun partnership with Milk Life, the third contest in 2019—Your All-Time Best Creamy Breakfast—launched on July 31st, rather than July 15th. The rest of this contest's dates shifted slightly as well—please take a look at updates to the schedule below for this particular contest. For this contest, we're partnering with a couple of food friends to help get the word out! Please note that any submissions you may see marketed in conjunction with these partnerships for this contest prior to the Top 5 recipe contender stage are just for fun and not being considered as finalists or winners. Other than changes to the relevant dates for this contest, the rest of the rules (like Judging Criteria) remain the same. (P.S. For this contest with Milk Life, the only prize is bragging rights! Which are, you know, infinite.)
  2. You'll have a little over one month, until 6:00 PM ET on the first day of the third month, to submit your recipes. The exact day your recipe needs to be in will be included in the contest announcement. We're really excited about new recipes, but existing recipes can be submitted too.
  3. For the next several weeks, we'll be narrowing down the selections. While we'll make the final call, we'll also be relying on your input in a big way—which recipes you favorite, your comments and ratings on these recipes, and any feedback you send to [email protected] We'll announce a list of 5 contenders midway through the third month (so, for 2019: March, June, September, and December).
  4. The 5 recipe contenders will all be made in our test kitchen and reviewed by our team members. (We hope you'll test some of them at home in your own kitchen as well, so you'll be ready to vote. Add any feedback to the recipe page comments or reach out to us directly at [email protected])
  5. After testing, we'll whittle it down to 2 finalists. We'll announce them on the contest's landing page on the 1st of the fourth month at 12:00 PM ET (so, for 2019 contests: April 1, July 1, October 1, and January 1, 2020). Then we'll open up voting. You'll have about a week to check out the finalists, cook the recipes, and document the results. You can cast your vote on the site. The deadline to cast your vote will be 12:00 PM ET on the 8th of that fourth month. We then tally up the votes.
  6. The winner will be selected in accordance with the Judging Criteria and winner selection process, about which you can find more detail below. We then announce the winner on the contest's landing page on the 9th of the fourth month at 12:00 PM ET, and post a Q&A about the winning recipe within one week from the 9th. The winner gets to do a happy dance. Then on the 15th the whole cycle begins again with a new contest! For some contests, we may require that you sign something official in order to be declared the winner. If we do, that will be in the very fine print for that contest, below.

We'll end up with lots of new recipes—created by all of us—that we love!

*Confused? Check out this handy dandy visual guide to 2019's contests schedule:

New Contest Starts January 15 April 15 July 26 October 15
Submissions Close March 1 June 1 August 16 December 1
5 Contenders Announced March 20 June 20 September 9 December 16
2 Finalists Announced & Voting Starts On Contest Landing Page April 1 July 1 September 20 January 1
Voting Ends April 8 July 8 September 26 January 8
Winner Announced On Contest Landing Page April 9 July 9 September 27 January 9

Recipe Contest Rules

  1. If a recipe is not chosen as a winner for one contest, you may resubmit the same recipe for a future contest. (For example, Mom's Mud Pie could be submitted for Your Best Dessert Recipe and later for Your Best Kid-Friendly Recipe).
  2. You may only vote once for each contest on the site, but you may vote for your own recipe.
  3. This is all in the spirit of good fun. No harassing your fellow competitors, or we'll send you a year's supply of durian.
  4. If a contest theme involves alcohol (like Your Best Cocktail), you must be at least 21 years of age or older to enter. No alcohol purchase or any purchase is required.
  5. You may only submit recipes that are your own. If your recipe was inspired by another source, that's okay—just tell us how you changed it. We'd love for the inspiration behind your recipes to be part of the conversation. Plagiarism, however, is a definite don't. If you plagiarize, people will call you out and you'll look lame.
  6. Recipes cannot have previously won a contest or other promotion.
  7. Recipes must be in English. List all ingredients in common U.S. household measurements in order of use. Recipe cannot include ingredients that are considered illegal in any U.S state. Entries must be submitted by individuals, not by teams. The recipe and recipe name must not violate or infringe the rights of any third party, including but not limited to rights of copyright, trademark, publicity or privacy.
  8. In case you're wondering how we interpret an acceptably inspired recipe, here you go:

Example of original recipe:

Magnolia's Vanilla Cupcakes

From More from Magnolia: Recipes from the World-Famous Bakery and Allysa Torey's Home Kitchen by Allysa Torey

Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and the vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing. Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes.

Icing:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 6-8 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Makes enough for 2 dozen cupcakes.

Example of acceptably inspired recipe:

Anise Cupcakes with Chocolate Icing

Inspired by Magnolia's Vanilla Cupcakes in More from Magnolia: Recipes from the World-Famous Bakery and Allysa Torey's Home Kitchen by Allysa Torey

Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed aniseed
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise extract
  • Zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with cupcake papers.
  3. Combine the flours.
  4. In a the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk, cream the butter on medium speed. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the aniseed, anise extract and lemon zest. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients, alternating with the milk. Mix just until smooth. Divide the batter among the cupcake papers. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool the cupcakes in the pans for 15 minutes, then remove from the pans and cool on a baking rack. Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes.

Icing:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 5 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  1. Place the butter in a mixer fitted with a whisk. Beat in the melted chocolate. Gradually beat in 3 cups of sugar, then add just enough milk to loosen the icing; continue beating until very smooth, about 3 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, beating well after each addition. The icing should be smooth and spreadable. Makes enough for 2 dozen cupcakes.
  1. By submitting an entry, you agree to abide by these Official Rules and all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations that govern the Contest as well as the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy for our website, which you can find here and here. This contest is void where prohibited by law. This Contest is subject to all federal, state, and local laws and regulations. This contest is open to legal residents of the 50 United States, including DC, aged 18 or older. You must be a registered user of the Food52 website to enter. Employees of the following entities and members of their families or households are not eligible for participation under any circumstances: Food52, any prize provider (as applicable), and their respective affiliates, printers, advertising and promotion agencies, or retailers as well as any persons, involved in the creation, development, or implementation of this contest; and any other persons or entities directly associated with this contest.

Want to know more? Here's the really fine print.

Entering a recipe in a Food52 contest grants Food52 the right and irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual license to use, publish, adapt, edit, and/or modify the recipe in any way, in whole or in part, and to use such recipe, and any ideas or concepts contained therein, in commerce and in any and all media now known or hereafter discovered, worldwide, without limitation or compensation or consideration to the entrant and without right of notice, review or approval of any such use of the recipe.

As applicable: acceptance of a prize will further constitute and signify the winner's agreement and consent that Food52, as well as any prize provider and/or sponsor ("Contest Entities"), may use the winner's name, photograph, images, likeness, voice, signature, biographical information, submission, recipe and/or any other intellectual property materials created or submitted as any part of the Contest, in addition to any and all materials created during public relations activities related to the Contest (collectively "Publicity Materials") for purposes of advertising, publicity and trade related to Food52's as well as any prize provider and/or sponsor's, products and/or services, in all media worldwide, without further compensation, and without geographic or time limitation, except where prohibited. All Publicity Materials developed or used will be Food52's property and will be works "made for hire" and each winner will retain no ownership rights whatsoever. If Publicity Materials are not considered works "made for hire," each winner hereby assigns all them to Food52. For certain contests, in order to receive the prize, Food52 may require your signature on documents that incorporate certain elements of these rules.

Food52 reserves the right to take such action as it deems necessary to enforce these Official Rules and ensure the fair operation of the Contest, including without limitation, barring and disqualifying entrants who do not comply with these Official Rules. If, for any reason, the Contest is not capable of running as planned by any cause which, in the sole opinion of Food52, corrupts or affects the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper conduct of the Contest, or (as applicable) if due to any technical, production or other error, more prizes are claimed or awarded than are described in these Official Rules at any prize level, Food52 reserves the right, at its sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Contest and determine winners from entries received prior to action taken, or as otherwise deemed fair and equitable by Food52. No more than the number of prizes stated in these Official Rules will be awarded.

By entering the Contest, you voluntarily and knowingly completely and forever release, waive and discharge Contest Entities, and all related parties, from and against any and every kind of claim, demand, injury, costs, attorney fees, right, liability or cause of action or other liabilities of whatever kind or nature, known or unknown, absolute or contingent, and whether or not fixed, which you ever had, now has or might in the future have arising in any way or related to this Contest, including, but not limited to, participation in the Contest; your Contest Submission; use of your name, likeness, biographical information, signature, image or likeness; financial claims; physical and/or emotional injury; and/or any other legal claim that may arise, whether under contract, tort, warranty or any other theory or claim.

All disputes and questions regarding the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these Official Rules, the Terms of Use or Privacy Policy, or concerning the rights and obligations of any participant and/or Contest Entities, shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of New York, without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules or provisions that would cause the application of the laws of any jurisdiction other than New York. As a condition of participating, participants agree that any and all disputes which cannot be resolved between the parties, and causes of action arising out of or in connection with this Contest, shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, exclusively before a court located in New York County, New York having jurisdiction. Further, in any such dispute, under no circumstances will participants be permitted to obtain awards for, and hereby waive all rights to claim punitive, incidental or consequential damages, including attorneys' fees, other than participant's actual out-of-pocket expenses (e.g. costs associated with entering), and participant further waives all rights to have damages multiplied or increased.

The invalidity or unenforceability of any provision of these Official Rules shall not affect the validity or enforceability of any other provision. If any provision of these Official Rules is determined to be invalid or otherwise unenforceable, these Official Rules shall be construed in accordance with their terms as if the invalid or unenforceable provision was not contained there.

Taxes

All local, state and federal taxes incurred by accepting a prize (as applicable) will be the sole responsibility of the prize winner. Any person winning over $600 in prizes during any one (1) year period will receive an IRS Form 1099 at the end of the calendar year, and a copy of such form will be filed with the IRS. USE OF E-MAIL ADDRESSES By participating in this Contest, an Entrant agrees to opt-in to receive e-mail communications from the sponsor, as applicable.

As applicable, sponsor and its affiliates reserve the right to use the winning recipe & photo (custom shot by Food52).

Judging Criteria

Round 1 (determining top five)

During Round 1, each recipe will be judged by a team of Food52 editors and representatives of Food52 based on the following criteria:

  • (a) Relevance: relevance to contest theme and overall appeal of the recipe (30%);
  • (b) Organization: whether the recipe is written well, including all steps, in an organized and reproducible way (30%);
  • (c) Preparation: ease of preparation, whether the recipe is practical (e.g. does not require special cookware or ingredients) (30%);
  • (d) Popularity: the number of favorites and comments the recipe receives from the public (10%).

The top five (5) finalists in each category (the “finalist” or “finalists”) will be chosen based on the above Food52 Judging Criteria.

Each finalist will be notified by telephone or e-mail on or around the date of selection in accordance with the information provided at the time of entry.

Round 2 (determining top two)

The final five recipes will be judged by representatives of Food52 according to the following criteria:

  • (a) Taste and presentation: overall flavor, visual appeal (40%);
  • (b) Creativity and inventiveness: originality, relevance to the theme (35%);
  • (c) Community feedback: favorites, ratings, and comments on the recipe page (25%).

Round 3 (determining contest winner)

After the top two are determined, the Food52 community will vote on these finalists. The contest winner will then be determined as follows:

  • (a) Taste and presentation: overall flavor; visual appeal (40%);
  • (b) Creativity and inventiveness: originality; relevance to the theme (35%);
  • (c) Community vote: Food52 community votes on the two finalists (25%).

Food52 reserves the right, at our discretion, to disqualify or discount any entrant, image or vote connected to votes cast by unfair means.

Should there be any attempt to manipulate voting or winner selection process, Food52 reserves the right to select the winners, disqualify any votes, disqualify any entry, and take any other action it deems appropriate in order to conduct this Contest fairly and equitably. Entrants may not obtain votes in exchange for, or provide or benefit from, any inducement, vote exchange, vote farming, or any other material benefit, that artificially inflates an entrant's vote total, as determined by Food52 in its sole discretion.