Home (Baking!) for the Holidays: The Season’s Must-See Dessert Competitions

Holiday Wars Season 2 Contestant Jennifer Boudreaux
Food Network

Break out the sheet pans and snowflake cookie cutters and preheat the oven. It’s time for holiday baking! With celebrations around the corner, we’re all looking forward to pumpkin pies, gingerbread, and doughnuts. But this year, the season will be a little different, as people are spending more time at home and have fewer guests at the table thanks to social distancing measures.

Luckily, there are a ton of festive baking competition shows premiering in the coming weeks to help us prepare — and lift our spirits. Food Network alone has more than 40 hours of holiday programming on the way, says president Courtney White, offering “delicious escapism as well as holiday cheer.”

Considering how many of us tried to perfect sourdough starters and banana bread during lockdown this spring, making sweet treats is sure to be more popular than usual as the weather cools. “I am guessing we will have more skilled home bakers watching and baking along all season,” White predicts.

Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship judge Duff Goldman agrees. “Throughout all this craziness, people were talking about baking,” he explains. “They became a lot more knowledgeable. Because they [now] know more about it, they’re going to be doing more.”

The contestants on Holiday Baking Championship had better be both knowledgeable and creative if they hope to wow Goldman and fellow judges Nancy Fuller and Carla Hall with confections such as wreath-shaped cakes — and ultimately win the $25,000 prize. Goldman and cohost Valerie Bertinelli will likely go easier on the four Kids Baking Championship alums returning for that show’s Season’s Sweetings special, in which the young pastry chefs make gingerbread houses and “reindeer treats” (their prize: gourmet kitchen equipment).

And this year’s edition of Holiday Wars has a new host; Raven-Symoné guides contestants as they create Christmas-themed displays out of cake and sugar, in a quest to win $25,000. In November and December, look for new seasons of Christmas Cookie Challenge and The Big Bake: Holiday as well, plus the series premiere of cake boss Buddy Valastro’sBuddy vs. Christmas.

Food Network isn’t the only place to get a sweet fix. Netflix’s Sugar Rush Christmas returns Thanksgiving weekend, with four pairs of bakers vying for $10,000 to stuff in their stockings. And the latest holiday edition of the beloved GreatBritish Baking Show streams December 4.

Duff Goldman Kids Baking Championship Food Network

Duff Goldman interacting with Naima, as seen on Kids Baking Championship (Food Network)

Both White and Goldman acknowledge that viewers might need a little extra cheer this year. For his part, Goldman points to moments on his show where contestants work together. “Everybody’s been so isolated,” he says. “Having these team challenges — even with proper social distancing — creates the idea that we’re all still together!”

Holiday Wars, Season Premiere, Sunday, November 1, 8/7c,Food Network

Holiday Baking Championship, Season Premiere, Monday, November 2, 9/8c, Food Network

Kids Baking Championship: Season’s SweetingsSpecial Premiere, Sunday, November 8, 9/8c,Food Network