Cupcake Wars is a Food Network reality-based competition show hosted by Justin Willman based on creating unique and professional-style cupcakes that began airing in June of 2010. The show is similar to Food Network's successful Chopped show, in that it starts with four contestants who are eliminated one-by-one in three rounds, with the winning team receiving $10,000. But unlike in Chopped, where each team consists of only one chef, each team in Cupcake Wars consists of a chef and a sous-chef.


The first round lasts 45 minutes and is focused around taste. Contestants must create a cupcake with unusual ingredients related to a theme---for example, a date-night theme might require contestants to incorporate various aphrodisiacs, such as oysters, basil, dark chocolate or champagne. Contestants are usually required to use at least two or three of the unusual ingredients provided in the first challenge.

The second round lasts 75 minutes and is based on both taste and presentation. Contestants must make three different cupcakes, each showcasing a different taste with an outstanding presentation while still being linked to the episode's theme.

The third and final round is two hours long, and is also the most challenging. The remaining two bakers have to make 1,000 cupcakes that are improved versions of the cupcakes they had made in the first two rounds (they have 250 of each flavor), and come up with an elaborately constructed display connected to the episode's theme to hold all the cupcakes.

  • Each team receives four baking assistants to help them make the cupcakes and a master carpenter to make their cupcake-display---the two master carpenters in every episode are two guys named Jake and Justin (not the host).


The show invites cupcake bakers from all over the United States to compete. Most of the bakers who compete are generally from small businesses---such as food trucks, online bakeries, or just a bakery that's only one storefront. Whenever the bakers explain what they want to do with the $10,000, it's usually to use it to open up a bigger business.

Each episode is centered around a theme or event; past themes include a Seaworld birthday party for an orca, a "match-making" aphrodisiac party, an Ace of Cakes 100th episode celebration, "Survival of the Fittest" theme, an autistic charity event, a golf tournament, and a film festival.


There are three judges on Cupcake Wars, two of whom are permanent while the third judge is always a rotating judge who's associated with the event or at least the theme of the episode.

The two permanent judges on Cupcake Wars are:

  • Candace Nelson, co-founder/co-owner of Sprinkles Cupcakes, one of the world's first cupcake bakeries.
  • Florian Bellanger, a Frenchman who's the former executive pastry chef at Fauchon and now the chef/co-owner of Mad Mac Macarons.


  • Most of the bakers who have competed (and won) on Cupcake Wars have been women.
  • The only two episodes of Cupcake Wars where all the bakers were men was one episode centered around an event for the popular children's show, Yo Gabba Gabba!, and the other was for a rock-and-roll music event.
    • In most episodes with male bakers, there's usually only just one and they usually don't make it to the third round---if they do make it, and they're up against a female baker, they usually end up losing to said female baker.
  • The first, and currently only, gluten-free baker to win Cupcake Wars is woman from Lake Oswego, Oregon named Kyra Bussanich. Kyra's also one of the few bakers to have competed on Cupcake Wars more than once---in her case, a total of five times.
    • Kyra made it to the final round in all five episodes she competed, and managed to win three of the fives episodes she was in.
      • 1.) The first time Kyra competed on the show was in the Holiday Tree Lighting-episode, but she lost in the final round.
      • 2.) The second time Kyra competed on the show was in the episode that was celebrating the 100th episode of the popular crime series, The Closer, in which she went up against four returning bakers who had also lost on Cupcake Wars---which she won.
      • 3.) The third time Kyra competed on the show was in a "championship" episode, in which she went up three other previous champions of Cupcake Wars, which she also managed to win.
      • 4.) The fourth time was in another championship episode, but she lost.
      • 5.) The fifth (and currently last) time Kyra competed on Cupcake Wars was in the Barbie-themed episode, which she managed to win.