Cupcake Wars – Show Overview & Guide to Casting




pile of burnt cupcakes that are poorly decorated. #cupcakeFlop

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Cupcake wars is one of the best reality cooking shows. The show has a maximum prize of $10,000, but the real key is the exposure and marketing that the bakery gets for appearing on the show. Even if someone goes out in the first round, they will be able to advertise they were selected to appear on the show. By making it to the second round, the contestant can advertise they were in the “Top 3”, “Cupcake Wars Finalist” or “Cupcake Wars Winner”. Ultimately, appearing on this show is worth thousands of dollars in growing a business, and it will really allow the participants’ businesses to standout in the local market.


Cupcake Wars Overview

The show is divided into three rounds which are judge by Florian Bellanger, Candace Nelson, and a guest judge that will change each episode. The show was hosted by Justin Willman.  The first round will be a taste test in which the contestants will be provided ingredients which don’t normally go into cupcake. This could include raw seafood, green vegetables, meat or savory food. This really forces the contestant to think on their feet as they can’t simply come in with a predetermined recipes. After this round, the team which creates the worst cupcake is eliminated.

woman setting up cupcake display in for cooking show
The second round requires each team to make three cupcakes which are judged equally on taste and appearance. There are no restrictions for ingredients in this round so it’s the best strategy is to come in with recipes set for 5-6 different cakes to cover different flavor profiles. The other half of this is decoration which is greatly undervalued by many teams. Before appearing on the show, at least one of the people on the team should be comfortable with fondant sculpting and molded chocolate. Even if this isn’t something that is done in your local shop, this is one of the main skills to win the show. Once again after this round another team is eliminated leaving two teams.

The third and final rounds pushes the bakers from someone who creates the treats to someone who is leading a small army. While the first rounds were based on making remarkable items, the final round gives only a couple of hours to create 1000 cupcakes. To put the task in perspective, each team has a head baker, an assistant, and four production workers who each have to create an average of 167 cupcakes in 3 hours meaning. The effectively works out to about 1 minute of labor for the entire cupcake. Additionally, each team is responsible for creating a stand for the cupcakes.

Cupcake Wars by the Numbers

Cupcake wars has 8 contestants each episode working in 4 teams with two people on each team.  The teams are composed of people who work together before appearing on the show.  A lot of teams are composed of someone who is good a flavors to handle making the cupcake from the surprise ingredients and adjusting the recipe based on the judge’s feedback. And the other person who is mainly in charge of decorating.  There doesn’t need to be a clear division of labor; however, I observed the teams that do the best typically divide the work this way so that each person can focus on their strength.
pile of burnt cupcakes that are poorly decorated. #cupcakeFlop
When we originally wrote this article in 2014, we ranked the show as one of the easier Food Network shows to appear on.  Unlike other cookine shows, the possible contestants were limited to people who did cakes and cupcakes.  This greatly lowered the size of the pool of applicants.  Furthermore, the show had 4 teams per episode with around 15 episodes per season.  This meant that there could be 120 contestants appearing on each year which is huge compared with the less than 20 that appear on Food Network Star or Kid’s Baking Challenge.

The top prize was $10,000, but I view that more as an afterthought.  The major prize was the exposure from being on the show.  We spoke with someone who had been on a reality show about making our wedding cake, and she didn’t win.  Regardless, she had a video of the judges praising her flavors as a video on her website.  Just being on the show without winning was social proof that she was a quality baker who could deliver amazing flavors.  She was also able to increase the price for her cakes and cupcakes after appearing on the show, and this is for someone who didn’t even win.

Winning Cupcake Wars would be life changing for the teams that won it.  The monetary prize alone will be nice to allow for some  upgrades to the shop or to pay down a loan; however, the brand exposure and marketing is the huge win for this show.

Why Cupcake Wars is so Addictive to Watch

We’ve all been there. You’re bored, scrolling through Netflix trying to find something to watch. Suddenly, a show catches your eye. It’s called Cupcake Wars. You think to yourself, “I could watch a show about cupcakes…who doesn’t love cupcakes?” And so you press play. The next thing you know, it’s 2 am and you’ve watched 7 episodes in a row. What is it about this reality show that is so gripping? Let’s take a look.

For starters, the show is fast-paced and full of action. There is always something going on, whether it’s baking, decorating, or judging. It’s also interesting to see how different bakers approach the same challenge in unique ways. Some take risks while others play it safe. Some focus on flavor while others focus on decoration. But in the end, only one can be crowned the winner of Cupcake Wars.
Woman caught in motion creating cupcakes for reality show

Another reason why the show is so addictive is that it’s relatable. Sure, not all of us have experience baking or decorating cupcakes on a professional level but we can all relate to the trials and tribulations of competition. We root for our favorite bakers and hope they win because we see a little bit of ourselves in them. We want them to succeed because their success is our success.

Here’s a list of why cupcake wars are so easy to binge-watch.

  1. It’s Sweet, Literal, and Figurative
    Cupcake Wars is, first and foremost, a show about cupcakes. And who doesn’t love cupcakes? They’re small, they’re sweet, and they come in endless flavor combinations. What’s not to love? But the show is also figuratively sweet. The contestants are always supportive of one another, cheering each other on even as they compete against each other. And the judges are always fair, offering constructive criticism that helps the contestants improve their baking skills. It’s refreshing to see a reality TV show that isn’t full of backstabbing and betrayal!
  2.  The Stakes Are Low but the Competition Is High
    Unlike some other reality TV shows where the stakes are incredibly high (think: Survivor), the stakes on Cupcake Wars are relatively low. Sure, the prize money is significant, but at the end of the day, it’s just cupcakes. That said, the competition is still fierce! The contestants work tirelessly to create beautiful and delicious cupcakes that impress both the judges and the viewers at home. It’s exciting to watch them push themselves to come up with new flavor combinations and innovative designs.
  3.  The Show Is Educational
    In addition to being entertaining, Cupcake Wars is educational. The viewer gets to see how different flavors work together, how to make different kinds of frosting and fillings, and how to decorate cupcakes using techniques like piping and fondant sculpting. As someone who loves to bake (but isn’t very good at it), I’ve learned a lot from watching this show!

Whether you’re a casual fan of reality TV or a baking aficionado, there’s something for everyone to enjoy on Cupcake Wars. So if you haven’t given the show a chance yet, I highly recommend that you do! You just might find yourself falling in love with it as I have.

Lastly, the show is just plain fun to watch. It’s lighthearted and entertaining with just the right amount of drama. There’s no need to overthink it, just sit back and enjoy the ride!

cupcakes being decorated beforfe judging

So there you have it! Those are just a few of the reasons why Cupcake Wars is such a great show. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend giving it a try. And who knows, maybe you’ll become just as addicted as I am!

Show Tips

This is one of the most popular shows on our site, and we’ve gotten a lot of feedback for tips that we want to pass along to our readers when you make the show.

  1. In round 1, always avoid fish, onions, and hot dogs. You want to use one of the more memorable ingredients, but don’t pick the one with the strongest flavor on the table.
  2. In round 1, don’t play it entirely safe. There is almost always an option to choose two or three fruits that will fit a normal cupcake. This is a trap. The judges will grade more harshly expecting an amazing flavor, and there’s an incredibly high chance you’ll be going home.
  3. In round 1, use the minimum number of ingredients. In later seasons, many contestants try to prove their chops by throwing in more ingredients than necessary. You do not show off by adding more than the normal number, you are instead diluting the overall flavors.
  4. In round 1, decorate your cupcake. Having a nice appearing cupcake will greatly improve your chances should you make it to the final. Additionally, when a nicely decorated item is submitted in the first round, it very rarely gets eliminated.
  5. In between the first two round work with your assistant on your stand design. I recommend keeping some paper and pens with you to rough sketch and talk through ideas during the judging. This will allow the idea to simmer while working through round two.
  6. For Round 2, ignore all ingredients from the first round. One contestant will get stuck in the ideas from round one and try to incorporate those flavors going forward. This is a complete mistake as all previous ingredients should be forgotten.
  7. Create one chocolate cake, one spice/flavor cake and one fruit cake. The daily theme should not impact the cakes and frosting you make as you should focus the branding with the decorations.
  8. Decorations should demonstrate multiple techniques. You always want a piped chocolate and some fondant pieces. Additionally, adding a candied item like nuts, bacon or pretzels really helps add a bit of texture. These items be worked out in advance of appearing on the show, and only the decorations need to change.
  9. For round 3, create a 360 degree stand that has shelves starting about waist level. You want the logo and brand of the event front and center, and it helps to have an interactive element with a smoke machine or video screen.
  10. For round 3, avoid sparklers or fire. Contestants who go this approach usually don’t win the show as the decoration becomes a fire hazard. Find other ways of making the stand vibrant.
  11. Also patronize the judge and agree with their recommendations. In your kitchen, you are the boss, but on set listen to them and make the cake to their tasting even if you feel they are completely wrong.
  12. Don’t make red velvet cake. This cake is done too often, and making it is a sure way of having the judges feel your cake fell short.

Casting Videos

As we know a lot of you out there are creating your casting videos, our editors wanted to include some of the best /video submissions.

The submission from Rise cupcake is one of the best we’ve seen as it hits all the elements. The head baker and assistant are very photogenic and memorable. They look to have fun while dancing and being silly around the store. They also have a very nice store meaning that if they win, the cupcake wars brand wouldn’t be embarrassed to be associated with them. Additionally, the images of the cupcakes also show a high level of decorating skill. Finally, by talking about her staff and the large orders the store has done, they demonstrate the ability to lead a team of people to be able to accomplish the 1000 cupcake for the final round.

Applicant Requirements

  • Must Over 18 Years Old
  • Must Be Eligible to Work in United States

Casting Calls – Date & Location
This show has completed casting for the 2014 season and is currently airing. We will be updating this page when the casting for the next season opens up.

[Update 11-21-2022] According to IMDB, this show hasn’t been on the air since 2018.   If you see this a casting call or application form for this show, we’d love to hear from you on our twitter page.  We will update this page because it’s one of the most popular shows for people to talk and apply for in our community.


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