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47th Pillsbury Bake-Off Finalists – Vote for Your Favorite!

On November 3rd, I had the privilege of judging the Pillsbury Bake-Off ® Contest for the 2nd year in a row.  This was their 47th year of holding this amazing contest! 100 talented home cooks from across the country competed to win the $1 million grand prize, the largest purse in competitive cooking.

Finalists at the Bake-Off
In early 2014, Pillsbury invited amateur cooks to submit original recipes in one of four Contest categories: Amazing Doable Dinners, Simply Sweet Treats, Savory Snacks & Sides or Weekend Breakfast Wows.  This year submissions were to include no more than seven ingredients and 20 minutes or less of active prep time.  Each Contest, the Bake-Off® Kitchens typically screen and test tens of thousands of entries; the 100 best are selected to compete in the Contest Finals, which this year were held in Nashville, Tennessee.  Nashville, y’all!  It was my first time in Nashville- loved it!

Pillsbury Bake Off Celebration

The host of theBake-Off® Contest this year was the fabulous Carla Hall- former Top Chef finalist and co-host of ABC’s “The Chew.”  She is an incredibly energetic and happy person.  Carla was the perfect host for this event!

At the event, the 100 finalists each prepared their dishes for judging. A panel of judges (me + 11 more) evaluated all 100 recipes to determine the best recipe in each of the four Contest categories based on taste, appearance, creativity and consumer appeal.  I had the pleasure of judging the Amazing Doable Dinner category, along two other food professionals: Jill Melton, VP Editor-In-Chief of Relish Magazine (and author of the blog Jill Cooks Here) and Marge Perry, Food Writer/Teacher/Author (and author of the blog A Sweet and Savory Life).  All of the judges tasted and scored in their own categories, and then we all worked together to help choose the winners of the awards.

Pillsbury Special Awards 1Here are the winners of the “Special Awards” – prize $5,000 :

Pillsbury Special Awards 2More winners of the Special Awards:

This year, for the first time ever, America will have the chance to vote online for their favorite of the four recipes selected by the judges to help decide which recipe will win the $1 million grand prize.  Here are the four finalists (in no particular order)! >>

Cuban-Style Sandwich Pockets

Amazing Doable Dinners Category Winner (Courtney Sawyer, Bellingham, WA):  Cuban-Style Sandwich Pockets  

Chocolate Doughnut Poppers

Weekend Breakfast Wows Category Winner (Megan Beimer, Carlsbad, CA):  Chocolate Doughnut Poppers

Creamy Corn-Filled Sweet Peppers

Savory Snacks and Sides Category Winner (Jody Walker, Madison, MS):  Creamy Corn-Filled Sweet Peppers

Peanutty Pie Crust Clusters

Simply Sweet Treats Category Winner (Beth Royals, Richmond, VA):  Peanutty Pie Crust Clusters

Bake Off Finalists

Which recipe are you going to vote for??  You can actually make the recipes and try them out, if you’d like (click on the recipe titles in my descriptions above to see the recipes).  The public vote will be open from 10:00 p.m. CST on November 3, 2014 – 9:59 p.m. CST on December 2, 2014. To vote, go to    The points awarded by the Contest Judges count for 55 percent of the total possible points versus 45 percent for the public vote   Good luck to all the finalists.  I can’t wait to see which recipe takes the million dollar prize!

The $1 million winner will be revealed by Bake-Off® Contest Host Carla Hall on ABC’s “The Chew” on December 3, 2014. Prior to the grand prize winner announcement, “The Chew” will air footage from the Nashville event on its December 1, 2014 episode. The four Category Finalists will each demo their recipes on the December 2, 20914 episode of “The Chew.” “The Chew” airs on ABC at 1:00 p.m. EST (Noon CST and PST).

Nashville Pillsbury Bake-Off

And here are a few highlights of my time in Nashville, TN!  We stayed at the Omni downtown.  It was the perfect location next to the Country Music Hall of Fame and just a couple of blocks from all of the live music in the bars and clubs.  I happened to be there on my birthday, so I had a birthday beer to celebrate with Carrie (Bakeaholic Mama).  I finally met a very sweet, longtime internet friend of mine- Shawn (I Wash You Dry).  I hung out with beautiful and talented Angie (Bakerella)- she was also a judge for the Contest.  I sampled the oh-so-fabulous hot chicken and waffles at Hattie B’s with a bunch of really fun friends:  Dorothy (Crazy for Crust), Carrie (Bakeaholic Mama), Gerry (Foodness Gracious), Shawn (I Wash You Dry), Jocelyn (Bru Crew Life) and Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes).  The awards show was held at the CMA Theater, and all of the judges got together for a group photo w/ the golden Pillsbury Dough Boy (judges pictured left to right: Andrew Haley, Marge Perry, ME, Angie Dudley, John Szymanski, David Joachim, Lynn Blanchard, Heather McPherson, Ingrid Hoffman, Jenna Helwig and Kat Kinsman– not pictured: Jill Melton)

Disclosure:  Thanks to Pillsbury for inviting me to judge the 47th Pillsbury Bake-Off® Contest.  This was not a compensated opportunity, but Pillsbury did cover the cost of my travel and hotel.

Check out other posts written about the Bake-Off in Nashville from some of my blogging friends:
Picky Palate
I Wash You Dry
Crazy for Crust

Inside Bru Crew Life
Grandbaby Cakes
The Baker Mama


  1. postedNov 7, 2014 9:58 AM

    Okay, how much fun was that??!!! We got to hang out with great people and see the incredible creativity from home cooks across the country. Even toward the end of the day when we had tasted and tasted and tasted some more (and I swore I’d live on carrot sticks for a month!), I loved every minute of it.

    And talk about swag– I walked away from it with a real grand prize: new friends!

    • postedNov 7, 2014 10:44 AM

      It really was a great time, wasn’t it? I hope to be able to meet up with you and Jill again one of these days. We had a lot of fun together, and I feel lucky to have met you both!

  2. postedNov 7, 2014 1:30 PM

    It was so much fun to hang out with you! I didn’t envy your job one bit!!

    • postedNov 7, 2014 1:48 PM

      You should envy it… it was a blast! Though I’m eating pretty lightly this week 🙂

  3. postedNov 7, 2014 4:57 PM

    It must have been a great time. Plus you got to taste all the wonderful entries.

  4. postedNov 7, 2014 7:18 PM

    Oh, my gosh, what fun!! I loved seeing all the facebook updates…and wow, what amazing recipes! I would certainly love to have sampled those winners! I didn’t realize we could vote for the grand prize dish…so cool. Belated birthday wishes to you, too!

  5. postedNov 7, 2014 7:51 PM

    It was awesome hanging out with you on your birthday! I hope you had a great birthday weekend, and you and the judges did an awesome job picking winners!!!

  6. postedNov 8, 2014 3:32 AM

    I have always wanted to go to Nashville. I imagine it was a great location!

  7. postedNov 11, 2014 7:00 AM

    It wss great fun hanging out with you Lori 🙂 Great write up!

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