“Cupcake War” Inspired Lesson

cupcake-wars-4fac6002be1a0 (2)Students love the variety of food related shows that are on TV. One of the most requested is the Food Network show, “Cupcake Wars.” I personally don’t like to have competitions be graded but rather to be fun and to win bragging rights or a prize.


8.3 Demonstrate industry standards in selecting, using, and maintaining food production and food service equipment.

8.5.10 Prepare breads, baked goods and desserts using safe handling and professional preparation techniques.


  • Watch cupcake wars a class or two before your scheduled competition. ¬†Episodes are available on YouTube and Amazon; just search for your favorite.


  • Sprinkles, food coloring, piping bags
  • Fruits: strawberries, lemons, raspberries, bananas
  • Spices: cinnamon, cardamon, nutmeg, cloves, apple pie spice
  • Canned goods: pumpkin, honey, jams, preserves
  • Candy: chocolate chips, white chocolate, Andes candies
  • Dried fruits: dates, raisins, craisins, dried blueberries, dried bananas
  • Nuts: peanuts, macadamia nuts, pecans

Background for Teachers

  • Judging
    • I never like to personally judge culinary competitions because this is a great way to get other teachers and community members into your classroom to promote culinary arts! So I float around going from group to group helping out slightly and/or answering questions. I also like to
  • Time considerations:¬† In my mind there are three scenarios you could do depending on the time you have for the competition.
    • Boxed cupcake mixes (choice of flavors, students could mix things in)
    • Students bring in their own homemade cupcakes, unfrosted
    • Students make everything in class
      • 60 minutes for competing 1/2 hour for judging & clean up
      • Highly recommend students work in groups 2-4 especially if you expect them to clean up as they go.
  • Variations:
    • Mystery ingredient that students need to include in their cupcakes (my favorite mystery ingredient is avocado)
    • Theme inspired e.g. wildlife, romance, healthy, beach themed
    • Several “rounds” or “face-offs” like class winner against another class winner
    • Presentation: offer a selection of plates, platters, and doilies
  • Other
    • Some students get really stressed about competitions so I don’t like the added pressure of the competition being graded. I have never had a problem with students not rising to the occasion and giving it their best.


  • Explain that students will be judged on taste, texture, presentation, creativity.
  • Students need to make 3 cupcakes (one for each judge)
  • Suggest that students plan out on paper what they are making before they start and assign roles to each person.





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