And the Winner Is...

Pillsbury Bake-Off® Grand Prize Recipe

Cinnamon french toast bake
Cinnamon french toast bake.


Alexandra Grablewski / Getty Images

Every year since 1987, I've watched the Pillsbury Bake-Off® contest broadcast with special interest. I was a member of the Bake-Off® staff for years, first as an intern working in the test kitchens, then on the Search Team. For Bake-Off® 2000, I searched the Internet to make sure the final recipes were original. Each experience was completely wonderful, and in fact fulfilled a childhood dream. There are many things I can't tell you about the inner workings of the Bake-Off®, but this one is allowed: enter! Each year many cooks (and even non-cooks) are surprised to learn they are finalists with very simple recipes.

If you're looking for Bake-Off® books, I've found a great site that has pictures of every Bake-Off book! I worked on Bake-Off® #s 33, 34, 35, 38, 39, 46, and 47. In fact, my picture is in the book from 1988; number 33.

Try these recipes at least once. All the finalist's recipes are wonderful, but the top winners are really special. And you can tell your family they are eating a million dollar recipe!

2002 Grand Prize Winner: Chicken Florentine Panini

I have to say, this recipe is very inventive. I have never seen refrigerated pizza dough being grilled before. What a good idea! And the combination of textures and flavors in this simple sandwich is really superb.

2004 Grand Prize Winner: Oats 'n Honey Granola Pie

Using granola instead of pecans in a chess-style pie is a fabulous idea. Suzanne Conrad used crushed granola bars in the filling, along with brown sugar, walnuts, oats, and chocolate chips. Yum.

2006 Grand Prize Winner: Baked Chicken and Spinach Stuffing

I think this is the most interesting use of a breakfast product I have ever seen! Pillsbury frozen waffle sticks with syrup are used in this main dish by adding the syrup to a glaze for the chicken, and chopping the waffle sticks to add to the savory spinach stuffing.

2008 Grand Price Winner: Double Delight Peanut Butter Cookies

Now this is a recipe for beginning cooks. You just fill refrigerated peanut butter cookie dough with a powdered sugar and peanut mixture to create a creamy filling. I would drizzle the finished cookies with melted chocolate for a finishing touch. But that's just me.

2010 Grand Prize Winner: Mini Ice Cream Cookie Cups

This recipe is perfect for entertaining. You make little cookie cups ahead of time, dip them into chocolate and walnuts, then top with ice cream and raspberries. Yum.

2012 Grand Prize Winner: Pumpkin Ravioli with Salted Caramel Whipped Cream

This creative recipe played off the explosion in salted caramel flavors. It's more of a turnover than a "ravioli," but it's delicious and easy to make.

2014 Grand Prize Winner: Loaded Potato Pinwheels

This clever little appetizer uses frozen potatoes, bacon bits, cheese, and crescent dough to create a yummy dish that everyone will love.

2014 Grand Prize Winner: Peanutty Pie Crust Clusters

Candy recipes don't win very often at the Bake-Off, but this recipe is exceptional. 

Some of these recipes were judged best in their category; others are ones I think are really special. Each recipe is absolutely wonderful. If you watched the broadcast, you saw how excited each of the contestants was when called to the stage. Just think - that could be you in two years! Start thinking now about entering the next contest.

Pineapple-Black Bean Enchiladas

This recipe won the America's Favorite Recipe Award. People voted for the recipe before the Contest began. This main dish recipe is a cross between the popular pineapple pizza and traditional enchiladas.

Peanut Butter Truffle Tart

The combination of peanut butter and chocolate is always a winner. But the addition of crushed Peanut Butter Granola Bars is inspired, adding more great flavor and irresistible crunch to this creamy chocolate and peanut butter ganache pie. The crust is made from peanut butter cookie dough and the granola bars! Yum.

Oatmeal Carmelitas

This is my take on this popular recipe. I added more caramel and more butter, and reduced the flour to make the bar cookie more tender. 

Mexican Party Wings

This easy appetizer uses taco seasoning mix, green chilies, and ranch salad dressing to coat chicken drummies for a great flavor.

Cinnamon French Toast Bake

Refrigerated cinnamon roll dough is used in this flavorful breakfast strata. Serve it for a special brunch; it would also be wonderful for Christmas morning breakfast.

Bow-Thai Chicken

This inventive recipe uses Szechuan Stir Fry Meal Starter to create a great main dish that combines flavors of Thailand, Italy and China.

Grands!® Little Pies

When I saw this recipe at the Bake-Off® site, I thought it would be a winner! It's such a simple idea - use refrigerated biscuit dough for miniature pie crusts, fill with fruit fillings, and top with streusel.