|This article relies on references to primary sources. (October 2013)|
|Genre||Cooking show, reality|
|Presented by||Justin Willman|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||8|
|No. of episodes||81|
|Running time||1 hour|
|Original channel||Food Network|
|Original run||June 13, 2010 – present|
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 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. Each team 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.
The third and final round is the most challenging, with the remaining two teams having two hours to make 1,000 cupcakes. Each team must feature improved versions of all four cupcakes they made in the first two rounds, and then showcase them on an elaborately constructed display connected to that episode's them. Each team receives the assistance of four baking assistants and one carpenter in completing the round.
The show invites cupcake bakers from all over the United States to compete. 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 in the series, with two of them serving as permanent judges:
- Candace Nelson, founder of Sprinkles Cupcakes, the world's first cupcake bakery (in episode 7 of season 7, Bobbie Lloyd, Chief Baking Officer of Magnolia Bakery filled in for Nelson)
- Florian Bellanger, executive French pastry chef
- The third, rotating judge, is a special guest and is associated with the event in which that episode's winning cupcakes are to be served.