Sixteen of the country's finest junior home cooks compete for eight of the Top 20 spots of the season. After being split into four groups, each with a distinct signature dish, the kids get started. Only two contestants from each group will find out if they will succeed in moving on to the next round of challenges.
The remaining junior chefs compete for the final 12 spots in the Top 20. Making dishes ranging from cupcakes, to steak and lobster, the young chefs are tested to their limits and will find out if they will move on to the next round.
The Top 20 face the season's first mystery box challenge, during which they must cook dishes using both sweet and savory ingredients. Later, the contestants must replicate Chef Ramsay's signature hand-roasted sea bass. Then, it's up to the judges to decide who stays and who goes home. Chef Aarón Sanchez is the guest judge.
The Top 18 return to the kitchen to face off in 2 challenges. In the first, the young cooks are split into teams and have 10 minutes to make a classic American dish: the corn dog. The winning team gets to turn the judges into a yummy treat. Later, the contestants have to make a juicy burger, but there's a tough catch! Then, it's up to the judges to decide who stays and who goes home.
The Top 16 face off in their first team challenge, during which they cook lunch for first responders. Each team will have to create a dish featuring a delicious filet mignon and the guests will vote on which is better - the team with the most votes will win the challenge. Then, it's up to the judges to determine which two cooks from the losing team will head home.
The Top 14 junior home cooks receive a mystery box challenge inspired by the White House garden from former First Lady Michelle Obama. The young cooks must come up with an original recipe that is both healthy and presidential worthy, and the winner will receive a special once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! For the next challenge, Julie Bowen steps into the MasterChef kitchen to watch the kids make a dish in honor of their moms. Then, it's up to the judges to decide which contestant will go home.
Guest judge Richard Blais enters the kitchen to see what the kids can cook up. In the first challenge, the Top 12 junior home cooks team up into groups of three and have 10 minutes to make as many pies as possible. The winning team will be safe from elimination and will get to give the judges a sweet surprise! For the next challenge, the young chefs must use a blow torch to make either an appetizer, entrée, or dessert using ingredients from the MasterChef pantry. Then, it's up to the judges to decide who stays and who goes home.
Guest judge Richard Blais enters the kitchen once again, but not to judge the remaining 10 junior home cooks. There's a big surprise in the MasterChef kitchen, as the judges bring back the six kids who have gone home, to give them another shot at reentering the competition! The six junior home cooks will participate in two challenges that involve breaking apart a chicken and then using the parts to make unique dishes. Then, it's up to the judges to decide which two kids will be able to reenter the competition.
The Top 12 junior home cooks take their talents to the great outdoors, where they will cook for America's Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. For the first challenge, the kids are split into two teams and have to prepare and serve all scouts and troop leaders a dish that includes a pork chop entrée and two sides. The winning team moves on and the losing team heads back to the kitchen for a pressure test, during which they each must make a box of macaroons. Then, it's up to the judges to decide which two kids will go home.
In the first challenge, the young chefs are split into teams of two and must replicate a gingerbread house. Then, in the next challenge, Aarón Sánchez joins the kitchen as a guest judge, and the kids must cook up a Gordon Ramsay holiday classic. Finally, it's up to the judges to decide which two kids will go home.
MasterChef welcomes guest judge Chef Edward Lee... and the contestants' families! In the season's first mystery box challenge, the junior home cooks must prepare a delicious dish of their choice, inspired by their families. Then, in the next challenge, the young cooks team up in pairs to replicate a sushi platter and the judges will decide which two kids will go home.
The 1-hour retrospective will feature Ramsay dishing on some of his favorite meals from the show. He also will be visited by past winners and fan-favorite contestants, as he checks in to see how they've grown - not only as chefs, but as young adults. Also included are never-before-seen bloopers.
The Top 6 are split up into two teams, and have 75 minutes to create an entrée for VIP guests who range from firefighters to professional softball players, and construction workers to pilots. The guests will then vote on which dish they prefer and the winning team will receive a huge advantage later on in the competition. Next, the young cooks face an elimination challenge and welcome two surprise guests who will join in the fun - Miss Piggy and Swedish Chef! Then it's up to the judges to decide who will go home.
The remaining contestants face a high-pressure team challenge, during which they must cook for food critics, chefs and journalists at a pop-up restaurant on the beautiful California coast. The young cooks will have one hour to serve delicious scallop appetizers and another hour to dish out red snapper entrees to the guests. The winning team will go straight to the semifinals, but two young chefs from the losing team will have to leave the kitchen.
The Top 4 are in for a sweet challenge, as they recreate a chocolate molten lava cake to perfection. The winner will receive a huge advantage and could win a spot in the final round. Next up is the elimination challenge, during which each contestant will have to create a dish using one of the world's most popular meats. Two of the young chefs will be sent home, leaving only two to battle it out for the grand prize.
In the last cook-off of the season, special guest judges Wolfgang Puck and Martha Stewart join the judges' panel, as the two finalists prepare a three-course meal from scratch. In the end, only one will be crowned the winner and receive a check for 0,000.