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Frequently Asked Questions about The Pillsbury Bake-Off® Contest

Want to enter the Pillsbury Bake-Off® Contest but have questions? We’ve got answers to your most common questions right here!

Entering the Contest

Can I enter the Contest more than once? 
The official rules state that each entry should be submitted only once, but there are no restrictions on the total number of original entries you can submit for this Contest.

How do I know that my online entry was accepted?
If your online entry is successfully submitted, you will see a message on your screen that includes, “You are officially entered in the 48th Pillsbury Bake-Off® Contest.”

Can I save an entry that I’m working on and then finish it later?
No, entries cannot be saved and submitted at a later time.

Can I send a picture and/or diagram of what the recipe should look like?
No, photos or diagrams cannot be submitted.

Can I submit my entry in any language?
No. Entries must be submitted in English.

How do I print a copy of my entry?
The entry form does not provide a way to print your complete submission. However, your computer system may allow you to take screen shots as you move through the entry form.

When I click on “Submit” to submit my entry,' I return to the name/address page instead of a confirmation message.
This likely means that you have exceeded the maximum connection time allowed and have been disconnected from the web site. Unfortunately, your entry has not been received and you must resubmit. Be sure to complete your entry within two hours so that your connection is not broken. (Note that some Internet providers may disconnect you if your computer is idle for a shorter period of time.)

How can I find out how my entry was rated among the entries?
The volume of entries we receive does not allow us to provide individual feedback on the scoring of entries.  

Can I use a mobile device to submit my entry?
Yes, you can access the entry submission pages from your mobile device. However, it may be more convenient to enter on a desktop, laptop or tablet device.

Recipe Questions

I’d like to offer toppings for my recipe, like sour cream or Parmesan cheese. Do I have to indicate how much of those toppings to use, since each person will add toppings as they like?
You should indicate suggested amounts in your recipe. This will allow the test kitchen staff to evaluate the recipe as you intended.  Please note that toppings must be included as one of your eight ingredients.

Does a garnish in my recipe count as one of my eight ingredients?
Yes, any recipe garnish must be listed as one of your eight ingredients.

Do cooking sprays count as an ingredient?
If you use the cooking spray for pan preparation, it does not count as an ingredient but should be mentioned in the method of your recipe. If cooking spray is used on food during recipe preparation, it does count as one of your eight ingredients and should be included in the ingredient list.

What is not considered one of the total number of ingredients?

  • Table, kosher or plain sea salt;
  • Black pepper;
  • Water at any temperature;
  • Cooking spray for pan treatment; or
  • Dusting of flour used to minimize sticking

If I suggest an accompaniment like rice in my recipe, will the kitchen testers determine that amount?
If an ingredient or accompaniment other than table, kosher or sea salt, black pepper, flour for dusting or water is essential for the finished dish, the recipe entry should provide the amount of the ingredient needed and it must be listed as one of your eight ingredients. There is no other way to recommend an accompanying dish. 

Can you explain what should be included in preparation time?
Any time spent actively preparing your recipe is part of the 30 minute preparation time. This includes chopping, mixing, stirring (frequently or occasionally), or any time that you are actively working on your recipe. This does not include marinating, baking, cooling, or chilling time. 

What if I have a cooking and baking step in my recipe and have multiple pans. How should I list this in my recipe?
Please describe in detail all pans and other tools used in your “Recipe Steps” and/or the “Pans or Dish Type and Size” entry form boxes. 

I want to use flavored salts and lemon pepper in my recipe. Can they be used as salt and pepper in my recipe and not count as one of my eight ingredients?
No, table, kosher or sea salt and black pepper are the only salt and pepper ingredients that do not count as one of your eight ingredients. 

Can I enter a recipe that uses a preparation method like marinating overnight or cooking for 8 to 10 hours in a slow cooker?
Yes. The only time limitation for your recipe is 30 minutes of active prep time. There is no limitation on total recipe time. 

Can I enter a recipe that uses grilling as a preparation method?
Yes. Grilling is an acceptable preparation method for a recipe. 

Many recipes online and in cookbooks use raw ingredients like eggs and flour without cooking or baking them. Can I submit a recipe using raw ingredients without a baking or cooking step?
No-recipes that contain eggs, baking mixes, flour, cookie dough or other Pillsbury dough products require a baking or cooking step.

Eligible Product Questions

An ingredient I like to cook with was an eligible product for the last contest, but it is not listed for this contest. Is that an error?
Eligible products are selected for each Pillsbury Bake-Off® Contest. Many products that were eligible in the last Contest are not included in this Contest and some new ones have been added. See the list of eligible product ingredients.

I can't find an eligible product in my local grocery store? Can you help me locate the product in my area?
If you’re looking for a Pillsbury refrigerated dough product, please use the online General Mills product locator. Otherwise, we suggest that you ask your grocery store manager if the store can order the product, purchase the product from an online retailer, or select another eligible product that is available in your area. 

How do I know what different varieties or flavors are available of an eligible product?
Please check the Eligible Product list in the Official Rules. All eligible flavors and varieties are listed there. 

I’m using refrigerated sweet rolls with icing as my eligible product ingredient. Do I need to use both the icing and dough in my recipe?
You are not required to use the icing, but you must use the sweet roll dough.  

My recipe cuts shapes out of the Pillsbury® dough. Is it okay to have scraps of dough left over?
Yes, it is okay to have small amounts of dough left over and not used.

Eligibility Questions

Can I have further clarification on eligibility for food professionals?
Our interpretation of the food professional rule means generally that if someone is paid for work related to their original recipes, then they are not eligible. This includes selling food made using your original recipes, no matter how much (or how little) money you make and whether it is your sole or primary source of income.

“Food professional” may also be defined by a career, for example: chefs, food writers, culinary specialists or food educators or someone who creates recipes for pay would not be eligible.

You are not eligible if you graduated from a culinary school/program or if you are enrolled in a culinary school/program at any time between October 1, 2017 and March 31, 2018.

I work in a restaurant; does that disqualify me?
Some people who work in a restaurant (or for a caterer) are food professionals and some are not. Contest officials will consider your job responsibilities and training when determining whether you are a food professional, but you are not automatically disqualified because you work in a restaurant.

I get paid to decorate cakes; does that disqualify me?
Contest officials will consider all relevant circumstances, but if you are not using your own recipes to make the cakes or the decorations, you are not automatically disqualified.

I write a food blog; does that disqualify me?
Some blog writers are food professionals and some are not. Contest officials will consider your blog when determining whether you are a food professional, but you are not automatically disqualified because you write a food blog.

I wrote a cookbook; does that disqualify me?
Contest officials consider selling a cookbook as being paid for your original recipes. However, some activities, such as contributing recipes to a family or charitable cookbook or self-publishing a cookbook that is given away for free, may not make you a food professional, depending on the situation.

I have taken some cooking classes; does that disqualify me?
Contest officials will consider the circumstances of your classes. Enrolling in a formal culinary degree or certificate program would disqualify you, while taking a community education class would not. You are not automatically disqualified because you have taken some cooking classes.

I worked on an entry with another person. Can we enter the contest as a team?
No. Because our contest rules are based on an individual person entering and participating, partners cannot enter together.

Can I enter on behalf of someone who is unable to enter themselves?
No, you must personally enter your own original entry. If you know someone with a great recipe and story, please encourage them to enter themselves.

I see that Truvia® sweetener and GE Appliances are sponsors. Am I required to use these products in my entry? Will there be special prizes if I do?
No, you are not required to use sponsor products, and there are no special prizes if you do. There is a GE Appliances “good things, for life” Award, but it is not dependent upon use of a GE appliance in your recipe preparation.

Awards Questions

What are the awards for this year’s Bake-Off® Contest?
This year there will be four (4) Category winners, one of which will be the Grand-Prize Winner, and 2 Special Prize winners, for a total of 6 winning entries. The awards for each are as follows:

A. GRAND PRIZE
One Category Winner will be awarded the Grand Prize, which includes:

  1. A check for $50,000; 
  2. A kitchen makeover consisting of a choice of select groups of kitchen suites of GE Appliances, and $25,000 to implement the makeover; 
  3. A trip to New York City, New York around the week of January 15, 2018 and an appearance on the Food Network show The Kitchen. Trip includes round-trip coach air transportation for the Grand Prize Winner and one guest from the major airport nearest Grand Prize Winner’s home, hotel accommodations consisting of one double occupancy room for three to four nights, daily meals, and activities; 
  4. A visit to Grand Prize Winner’s hometown by a Food Network crew, who will photograph and create a video of the winning recipe and story that will be aired on the Food Network and on various social media channels; and 
  5. Grand Prize Winner and his/her recipe will be featured in a 2018 edition of Food Network Magazine. Retail value of the Grand Prize is approximately $92,000.

Retail value of the Grand Prize is approximately $92,000.

B. CATEGORY WINNER PRIZES
The three (3) Category Winners who do not win the Grand Prize will each receive a Category Winner Prize, which includes:

  1. A check for $5,000; 
  2. An option to choose among a select group of kitchen suites from GE Appliances, valued at approximately $10,000, or a $10,000 cash prize from GE Appliances; 
  3. A trip to New York City, New York around the week of January 15, 2018 to be featured on the Food Network show The Kitchen. Trip includes round-trip coach air transportation for each Category Winner and one guest from the major airport nearest Category Winner’s home, hotel accommodations consisting of one double occupancy room for three to four nights, daily meals, and activities; 
  4. A visit to Category Winner’s hometown by a Food Network crew, who will photograph and create a video of their winning recipe and story, to be aired on Food Network and various social media channels; and 
  5.  Category Winners and their recipes will be featured in a 2018 edition of Food Network Magazine. 

Combined retail value of each Category Winner Prize is approximately $20,000.

C. Special Awards

  1. Meijer Award will be awarded to the Potential Finalist with the highest Initial Score, defined below, among all entrants who chose Meijer as their preferred grocery store and who is not a Potential Category Winner. The Meijer Award winner will receive $10,000 worth of gift cards to Meijer stores. The Meijer Award will be determined after the Potential Category Winners, who are ineligible for the Meijer Award. In the event that there is not a qualifying Entry from an eligible entrant, the Award will not be awarded. 
  2. GE Appliances “good things, for life” Award will be awarded to the entrant whose original recipe is judged by the General Mills Food Professionals to demonstrate the most creative update of a traditional recipe using modern ingredients and/or cooking techniques. The GE “good things, for life" Award Winner will receive a GE Café Black Slate appliance package, a personal cooking lesson at home with a noted GE Appliances chef followed by a dinner party with their closest friends, plus $5,000 cash.  Retail value of the GE Appliances “good things, for life” Award is approximately $20,000. The GE Appliances “good things, for life” Award will be determined after the Meijer Award and will not be awarded to a Potential Category Winner or a Meijer Award Winner, regardless of whether the chosen winners accept such prizes. In the event that all eligible Entries have already received another Prize or there is not an eligible Entry, the GE Appliances “good things, for life” Award will not be awarded.

Approximate retail value of all prizes is $182,000.

Why did the awards for this year change?
We know that people value making memories together and often food and well-loved recipes are at the center of those memories. We’re partnering with the Food Network to take that to the next level by offering our winner a chance to experience something that money can’t buy. A monetary gift will still be part of the prize, but just as the contest is about sharing memories, the prize package also reflects this new focus.

What if my prize includes a travel element, but I am unable to travel on the specific dates you need me to? Can I choose a different prize?
No. Category winners must be able to travel to New York around the week of January 15, 2018. If the winner cannot, they cannot choose another prize, and another prize winner will be chosen. 

Contest Judging and Contest Finals Questions

Are all Entries submitted to the contest read and judged, or do you select just some of the Entries to review?
Judges review all Entries and select a limited number of eligible Entries to become potential finalists. All Potential Finalist entries are judged by our food professionals, and their recipes are thoroughly tested to arrive at a score.

Why am I being asked to submit a story this year? How will it affect my chances of winning?
We know that people value making memories together, and often food and well-loved recipes are at the center of those memories. Pillsbury wanted to celebrate those special memories and the stories behind them. The story portion counts for 30% of the final score.

What do you want in a story? What if I don’t have a story about my recipe?
We want to learn about the story behind your original recipe.  For example, you could tell us about your recipe’s inspiration, a favorite memory behind the recipe or created when you were making the recipe, a special ingredient, the story of how the recipe came to be, how it brings people together, or how it has become a family tradition.

How will Entries be judged?

Judges will review all Entries and select a limited number of eligible Entries to become potential finalists (each, a “Potential Finalist”).

  1. CATEGORY, GRAND PRIZE, AND MEIJER AWARD JUDGING
    Potential Finalists’ Entries will be scored taking into consideration the recipe and story criteria and weighting outlined below (the “Initial Score”). The recipe portion counts for 70% of the Initial Score, and the story is 30%.

    1. Recipe Judging
      1. Taste (25%)
      2. Appearance (25%)
      3. Creativity (25%)
      4. Crowd Appeal (25%)

    2. Story Judging
      1. How the recipe ties to the story (40%)
      2. How the story brings to life a family value, tradition, or memory (40%)
      3. Demonstration of passion (20%)
  2. Entrants are only eligible to be selected as the Potential Category Winner in one Category. The Potential Finalist whose Entry has the highest Initial Score in each Category and who has not been selected as the Potential Category Winner in another Category will become a Potential Category Winner for that Category. Once the Potential Category Winners are confirmed as Winners, as described in Section VI of the Official Rules, their Entries will be scored by the Food Network judges using the same criteria used to determine the Initial Score. The Category Winner who is awarded the highest score by the Food Network judges will become the Grand Prize Winner.

  3. MEIJER AWARD JUDGING
    Entrants must select Meijer as their preferred grocery store on the entry form to be eligible for the Meijer Award. The Meijer Award will be judged based on the same judging criteria as the Category and Grand Prize.

  4. GE APPLIANCES “good things, for life” AWARD JUDGING     
    The GE Appliances “good things, for life” Award winner will be determined by the General Mills Food Professionals as described elsewhere in the rules, and will not be determined based on the above judging criteria.

  5. GENERAL JUDGING CONDITIONS    
    At any point in the Contest, in the event of a tied score, the Entry with the highest score for taste will be declared the Entry with the higher score. After the Category Winners have been confirmed, the Meijer Award winner will be determined, and then the GE Appliances “good things, for life” Award winner. General Mills reserves the right to not award any or all prizes if, in its sole discretion, it does not receive a sufficient number of eligible and qualified Entries.

Can an eligible entry win more than one prize or award?
No. The Contest rules state that each Potential Finalist entry is eligible to win one prize.

Can I win more than one prize or award?
No. The Contest rules state that a person can only win one prize

How is the Grand-Prize Winner determined?
Once the Potential Category Winners are confirmed as Winners, their Entries will be scored by the Food Network judges using the same criteria used to determine the Initial Score. The Category Winner who is awarded the highest score by the Food Network judges will become the Grand Prize Winner.

How will the Grand-Prize Winner be announced? 
The Grand Prize winner will be announced on an episode of The Kitchen in February 2018. Please visit www.bakeoff.com for more information as the winner announcement approaches.

Bake-Off is a registered trademark of The Pillsbury Company