Pillsbury Dough Boy - © Pillsbury

Pillsbury Bake-Off 2022: Ovens Off! (Thinking Caps On)

It’s time for Pillsbury’s annual Bake-Off, and the 2022 edition details have just been released. It’s pretty much the same deal as it has been every year since the first one, back in 1949. But this year there’s a first-time twist: You can use any cooking device you want except the oven…

First Pillsbuiy Bake-Off - © PillsburyThe first Pillsbury Bake-Off: In 1949, at the Waldorf Astoria.

The Pillsbury Bake-Off may be the biggest, longest-standing, most famous such event in U.S. history. Its gone through a lot of changes since the first one, in 1949. The twist this year? You can’t use the oven! Anything else that heats up is okay: from air fryer to slow cooker to gas grill.

And remember: You can (and I think, should) think outside the ‘desert box’. Savoury recipes have been amply represented in the winner’s circle at the Bake-Off over the years!

A little history

The first Pillsbury Bake-Off was staged in 1949 in honour of the company’s 80th birthday. It was a gala affair in which 100 finalists from across the U.S. competed, in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, in new York, for a $25,000 prize.

1949 Pilsbury Bake-Off - © Pillsbury

Among the special guests invited to taste the entries and help award the prizes was former First Lady, then  newspaper columnist Eleanor Roosevelt. It was hosted by then-CBS radio personality Art Linkletter (above).

Some fast facts

From thew official Bake-Off website…

  • The first contest’s winning recipe was No-Knead Water-Rising Twists, created by Theodora Smafield of Rockford, Illinois. Smafield was awarded $50,000 for her recipe, which called for the unique rising technique of wrapping dough in a tea towel and submerging it in warm water. The original $25,000 grand prize was doubled for Smafield since she submitted her package seal from Pillsbury Best flour. The remaining $20,000 was divided among the other eight finalists.
  • In 1970, TV legend and beauty pageant host Bob Barker took his first turn as host of the Pillsbury Bake-Off television broadcast. He would continue to host the program through 1982.
  • In 1996, Bake-Off history was made when Kurt Wait of Redwood City, California, became the first male participant to win the grand prize. His recipe, Macadamia Fudge Torte, boasts a 5-star rating from over 300 reviewers.
  • Also in 1996, the grand prize increased from $50,000 to $1 million dollars.
  • What’s more exciting—winning the Bake-Off or meeting Oprah? In 2010, Sue Compton of Delanco, New Jersey, got to do both when her recipe for Mini Ice Cream Cookie Cups was announced as the winner of the 44th Bake-Off Contest on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
  • Today, the Bake-Off is entirely virtual!

Get into the game!

You can get all the contest details at the official Bake-Off website. Then visit this fascinating Bake-Off history page for galleries of past winners that may spark a winning recipe idea for you!

And make sure you visit the special page where you can look up the winning recipe in the year you were born!

~ Maggie J.