Knott's Berry Farm is a theme park located in Buena Park, California. To understand the food culture at California's original theme park, you must first understand the boysenberry. The park was founded by farmer Walter Knott, who helped to invent the boysenberry, a berry strain made from blackberries, raspberries, and loganberries that is named for Knott's collaborator Rudolph Boysen. The berries are now synonymous with Knott's Berry Farm, which holds an annual Boysenberry Festival to this day.
Along with boysenberries, Knott's is known for having a California theme. The park has a Boardwalk section devoted to the beach, a Ghost Town section depicting the Old West, and a Fiesta Village section giving a shoutout to California's neighboring country to the South. Within all of these park sections, there are foods aligned with each theme. There is an open-air barbecue in Boardwalk, sarsaparilla soda in Ghost Town, and nacho fries in Fiesta Village.
Yes, California and the boysenberry play a huge part in some of Knott's menus, but there's at least one additional component to the cuisine: fair food. Like Disneyland and other amusement parks, Knott's plays on the nostalgia of the county fair by dishing up fried, indulgent dishes. Read on to find out the best things to eat and drink at Knott's Berry Farm.
Funnel cake is the most essential Knott's Berry Farm food, no contest. It's one of the most well-known treats of the theme park, combining common themes of Knott's menu like a fair food-inspired recipe, shareable qualities, and (sometimes) boysenberry elements, into one fried dough treat. Knott's funnel cakes are so popular that they are sold at multiple park eateries. You can find them at Ghost Town Grub, Sutter's Funnel Cake, or Log Ride Funnel Cake, located inside Knott's.
According to the Knott's, the most beloved funnel cakes are made at Sutter's. "The quick-service dessert window, Sutter's Funnel Cake, is home to Knott's Berry Farm's famous freshly made funnel cakes," reads the park's site. The dessert's core — interconnected ribbons of powdered, fried sweet dough — is the same as the classic funnel cake recipe. But Knott's special take is the "Fully Loaded" funnel cake. It's funnel cake topped with ice cream and jam, usually of the boysenberry variety, per Food Network. There are also chocolate and strawberry topping options, but you should probably get boysenberry.
Many who've tasted Knott's "Fully Loaded" funnel cake would not be able to resist getting the powdered sugar dessert again. One Yelp reviewer wrote, "Each bite of this hot, crispy dream was better than the one before. The boysenberries were so sweet, they were my favorite part along with the ice cream!" Another fan summed up Knott's funnel cake experience with, "The truth is, you can try to eat funnel cakes elsewhere, but somehow they just don't compare."
Mrs. Knott's Famous Chicken Dinner is one of the best (and most historic) foods to get at Knott's. The dinner is sold at Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant, which is part of Knott's California Marketplace, a string of businesses located just outside the theme park. The spot has been a hit for nearly 100 years. According to the park's website, Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant opened in 1934. It began as a tea room where Cordelia Knott, the wife of Knott's founder Walter Knott, could showcase boysenberry-based foods like jam. Before long, Mrs. Knott served her first chicken dinner. The rest was history.
The original recipe is still served today. According to Visit California, the meal consists of fried chicken, gravy-topped mashed potatoes, a side of cherry rhubarb or cabbage, and biscuits with boysenberry preserves. After dinner, patrons can choose between boysenberry pie or boysenberry sherbet for dessert. Due to the eatery's location outside of Knott's, it's even popular with more than just amusement park goers. You can even get the chicken dinner for take-out, at the California Marketplace's Chicken-To-Go restaurant.
Some may think the chicken dinner's quality has depreciated with time, especially due to its popularity. But other Tripadvisor reviewers will tell you otherwise. One person wrote of the meal, "Legitimately the best fried chicken I've ever eaten." Another said, "The hot biscuits that come out are absolutely delicious!...They bring a boysenberry spread with the biscuits that is fabulous!" Overall, it's a huge and satisfying meal.
Calico Soda is a Knott's drink that you simply must try. It is perfect for pairing with another item on this list — or should we say, washing it down, considering the heavy nature of Knott's foods. But you can also drink Calico Soda by itself, for instant refreshment. If you want to pair it, however, it would be easiest to have with other foods sold at Knott's Calico Saloon. The restaurant, located within the park's Ghost Town section, is the only place where Calico Soda is sold. The Calico Saloon serves snacks like popcorn and pickles, which might go great with a soda.
The beverage is essentially a boysenberry cream soda. Per Rockin' Mama, Knott's Calico Soda is a combination of soda, simple syrup, and boysenberry extract. The result is a purple-colored sparkling beverage. It comes served in a rustic-looking mason jar. You can even keep the mason jar as a souvenir. Unfortunately, CP Food Blog reports that the soda contains 675 calories, meaning it's not a healthy drink.
The Calico Soda comes highly recommended among visitors to the Calico Saloon. On the review website Restaurantji, tasters like the drink. One wrote, "Calico Soda was good, boysenberry flavored drink," and another commented, "Calico soda is the bomb." The Calico Soda is a great way to refresh at Knott's. It may not be the lightest drink in the world, but at the very least, you'll get to try that boysenberry flavor in drink form.
While not a proprietary item by any means, loaded french fries are a dish that Knott's does right. The meal is sold at Papa Loca, a Mexican restaurant located inside the Fiesta Village section of the park. Fries can be personalized with different toppings. The additions include guacamole, sour cream, nacho cheese, bell peppers, or different meats. One of the most popular toppings is carne asada. If you find yourself wanting fries at the park, don't miss out on loaded french fries. When picking among loaded options, go with the carne asada.
Fries come in a shoestring shape. With all those toppings, the resulting dish is basically nachos, but instead of chips, you get fries. (No, the snack doesn't bear any resemblance to the Taco Bell Nacho Fries.) It's also a very communal item, as Knott's loaded french fries are perfect for sharing. Just one order is sure to keep you and your friends satisfied after a round of rollercoasters.
Reviews of the loaded french fries are ecstatic, especially the carne asada ones. Most people remark that the dish is of higher quality than expected, for a theme park food. "The Carne Asada Fries take nice and crispy potato strings and top them with a good amount of chopped steak, sour cream, and guacamole," wrote CP Food Blog. "The fries were crispy and the Carne Asada was really good, no fatty or chewy bits," said someone on Yelp.
Whether you're at the park for Knott's Scary Farm, Knott's Merry Farm, or straight-up Knott's Berry Farm, be sure to get yourself a Snoopy Cookie. At Knott's, there is Camp Snoopy, an area devoted to the Peanuts comic book strip characters, which is full of rides for children. Camp Snoopy has been around for decades, as the result of a partnership with Peanuts, per Knott's. To celebrate the Peanuts even more, Knott's bakes cookies in the shape of the Peanut's beloved beagle, topped with icing depicting Snoopy's head.
You can find Snoopy cookies at the multiple bakeries located within Knott's, such as Charleston Circle Coffee, which serves Starbucks drinks. The cookies are also sold at the Knott's Berry Farm Bakery, which is located just outside the park, inside of Knott's California Marketplace.
The cookies themselves are somewhat basic. It's a sugar cookie with a layer of hard (somewhat flavorless) frosting, how good can it be? The frosting flavors themselves aren't so unique, they are vanilla and chocolate. But it's hard to pass up a treat that pays homage to the mascot of Knott's. And hey, if you happen to be there during Knott's Merry Farm season, you can treat yourself to a Santa Claus Snoopy cookie.
Boysenberry Meatballs are another Knott's product utilizing the theme park's famous berry. You can find the meatballs at Knott's Boysenberry Festival, which takes place for a short time, annually. But the dish is also available year-round at Knott's. The boysenberry meatballs are sold at the in-park restaurant Boardwalk BBQ, per Zmenu, in the Boardwalk section of Knott's Berry Farm.
The sweet-and-savory meatballs are coated in a boysenberry barbecue sauce, as OC Mom Blog explains in their recipe. You can even purchase this sauce at Knott's Berry Market, a store located inside Knott's California Marketplace just outside the theme park gates. After trying the boysenberry meatballs at Boardwalk BBQ, you might just have to buy a bottle. The sweetness of the jammy sauce perfectly compliments the savory meat. Just like ketchup or teriyaki sauce. The result is a rich, sweet, and meaty treat.
Food blog Theme Park Duo highly recommends trying the boysenberry meatballs, saying, "This obviously gets a 10/10 in our book...trust us when we say it is a must have!" Fellow blog Family Review Guide agreed, writing, "The Boysenberry Meatballs are a delicious protein packed snack on a stick! They are tender and flavorful." On Yelp, a taster also liked their meal. "The meatballs were pretty good, definitely not dry on the inside, and the perfect amount of sauce on the outside," they said. Don't miss the chance to try one of the best things to eat at Knott's Berry Farm. Get the meatballs.
The Cookiewich is Knott's popular take on the ice cream sandwich. During your visit to the Orange County theme park, you can find it at Knott's Mix-It-up Ice Cream Shop. It's located inside the Ghost Town section of the park, near Calico Saloon (the place that sells Knott's proprietary Calico Soda, popcorn, pickles, and more).
The Cookiewich contains either vanilla or boysenberry-flavored ice cream — and a generous serving of it, at that. Chocolate chips may be added to the ice cream, dotting the middle of your sandwich with crunchy, chocolatey bits. That ice cream is sandwiched between two huge cookies (which also tend to contain chocolate chips). It's no funnel cake sundae, but it's still quite the indulgence. As the theme park declares, "It's big enough to share, but so tasty that you won't want to." We feel like there will likely be some chocolate to go around, based on the Cookiewich recipe.
BuzzFeed said of the boysenberry-filled Cookiewich, "the pairing of chocolate and berry is pretty perfect." Visit Buena Park called Mix-It-Up, one of the best ice cream shops in the city, recommending the boysenberry-flavored Cookiewich, as well. We have to agree with this recommendation. If you're going to get an ice cream sandwich at Knott's, might as well skip the vanilla. Get a special flavor you probably won't come across outside of the theme park. Also, the flavor is lightly fruity, balancing out the rich sweetness of the chocolate chips.
Loaded tater tots are the specialty of Calico Tater Bites, a Knott's restaurant located within the park's Ghost Town section, near the Wagon Camp Theatre. The food stand serves a variety of fried potato bits with toppings. One popular menu item is the "BBQ Pulled Pork Tater Tots." This dish is comprised of meat, tots, fried jalapeño strips and cheddar cheese. For other options on Calico Tater Bites' menu, toppings include mac & cheese, chili cheese, and buffalo chicken.
Like the loaded french fries available at Knott's, loaded tater tots can be a useful snack throughout your theme park day. Some might argue that loaded tots are better than loaded fries. One reason is that tater tots' girth better lends itself to picking up toppings. Also, tots are easier to pick up with a fork, than a french fry. Additionally, they're crunchier than shoestring fries (which is preferred by most potato lovers). Even better, you can share them. Give the whole group a fork and dig in while waiting in line for the Calico Mine Ride.
The pulled pork tater tots should be at the top of your list while visiting Knott's. Visit Buena Park recommended them, saying, "You'll get pulled pork, cheddar cheese, and a hefty drizzle of chipotle ranch on top of a bed of crispy tots." One Reddit user enjoyed the Chipotle Carnitas Tots, writing, "Very good and highly recommend." Whatever you choose, you'll get tots. That's a fool-proof plan.
The Fun Bun is one of Knott's most infamous foods. There are surely some people who wouldn't say it's one of the best things to eat at the park, health-wise. In fact, they might say it's the worst (just look at all that sugar). But if you like to eat cinnamon rolls and funnel cakes, it's time to challenge yourself to the Fun Bun. Knott's Fun Bun is another boysenberry-infused dessert. It's been a megahit among customers since arriving at Knott's in 2015.
The name comes from the combination of funnel cake (fun) and a cinnamon bun (bun). The dessert is just that. Knott's takes a cinnamon roll and coats the outside in funnel cake batter before deep-frying it, per Foodbeast. Powdered sugar is added. Then, the entire pastry is topped with boysenberry-flavored cream cheese frosting. Visually stunning, overly sweet, texturally diverse, and perfectly greasy, the Fun Bun is a Knott's food worth trying. But it's not for the faint of heart.
Unfortunately, the Fun Bun is only available during Knott's Boysenberry Festival. However, the theme park sometimes brings back the dish for limited-time releases. According to Theme Park Insider, the Super Fun Bun was available at Ghost Town Grub in 2021, for Knott's Berry Farm's 100th anniversary celebration. If you're at Knott's while this dessert is being sold, you should try to get your hands on it. The Fun Bun is a stunning, fuchsia-colored treat. Plus, that icing looks great in pictures.
Chicken and Pork Ribs are a less unique food option, but it's something Knott's patrons love. It's a way many visitors like to satisfy a meat craving while embodying the rustic, western themes of Knott's Berry Farm. The ribs you want are sold at Fireman's Brigade BBQ, a.k.a. Fireman's BBQ, inside the park. As Knott's says, the meat cooked at this open-air barbecue is "marinated for hours and grilled to perfection." Sounds finger-licking good, right?
You'll find a variety of Southern favorites on the menu, like a baked potato, coleslaw, and corn on the cob. But one of the most popular main dishes is the "¼ Chicken and Pork Ribs," which costs upwards of $15. Typically, a few sides are included with the chicken and pork. It's not a light serving of meat. According to CP Food Blog, there is more than 2,000 calories worth of chicken and pork in each meal.
Despite having nutritional content that's the entirety of the average woman's recommended daily calorie intake, Knott's customers can't get enough of this dish. On Yelp, a diner said "My favorite is the PORK RIBS...They are very fatty, but overall have lots of meat and taste great. The CHICKEN can be dry, but I like getting it as a combo with the ribs." On Restaurantji, a diner echoed this, saying, "Best place to eat inside Knott's. Ribs, corn on the Cobb, are my top choices." Be ready to wait in line for this one.
When you think of churros, the theme park that comes to mind might not be Knott's Berry Farm. Disneyland's churros are so popular that there are multiple do-it-yourself recipes for recreating the fried snacks at home. But Knott's makes a mean churro, as well. Knott's churros might even be more unique. We'll get to that.
First, you have to know where to shop. Once you've entered Knott's Berry Farm, went on a few rides, maybe mined for some gold, head to Ghost Town's Gourmet Churro Factory. Per Knott's, you will be able to "Watch as our specially trained culinary team rolls, cranks, and fry fresh churros from scratch before your very eyes." The Gourmet Churro Factory doesn't just sell the crunchy, cinnamon-sugar coated dessert tubes. The Knott's food stand sells stuffed churros. You can get fillings of strawberry, Bavarian cream, or (of course) boysenberry. Each frosting-like substance goes perfectly with the cinnamon flavor, similar to icing on cinnamon rolls.
Reviews for these churros are divisive. If you're expecting a Disneyland churro, change your expectations. Per Yelp, the difference is texture. Knott's churros are fluffier and less crunchy. As one user described, "The churro is not as crunchy as Disneyland's churro but the toppings more than make up for the lack of crunch." But they still have a little crunch to them, as one person said "If you are a churro enthusiast, you will like this place because they make churros and they are fresh."
Knott's Sassparilla Soda is a unique item from the get-go. From the bottle label, you'll see the product's name is spelled differently from other sarsaparilla products. No matter the spelling, the drinks are going to taste like root beer. In its glory days, the unique flavor of sarsaparilla came from the sassafras root. The root was banned by U.S. officials during the 1960s, citing health concerns. Legal, more generically-named "root beer" came to take its place. When you buy sarsaparilla drinks today (like at Knott's Berry Farm) they are no longer made from sassafras root.
Knott's Sassparilla drink is sold at the Calico Saloon a.k.a. the Old West Saloon. You might remember this palace as where Knott's Calico Sodas are made. Unlike the Calico Soda, Knott's Sassparilla is technically available for purchase outside of the park. It's made by Baron's a.k.a. Baron's Boothill. However, the blog Root Beer Barrel says that the Baron's Boothill Sassparilla sold at Knott's is nearly impossible to get anywhere else. When it is available for shipping, the prices are high. So your best chance to try this drink is within the Orange County theme park.
Those who've tasted it say the drink's flavor is hard to pin down. Root Beer Respect wrote, "The taste of Barons Boothill Sarsaparilla is something of an enigma...there was a hint of sarsaparilla, but it certainly was not strong or the main flavor." Another blog called it, "very flavorful and spicy yet very sweet."
The corn dog is another common theme park item, much like churros. But not all theme parks (we're looking at you Disney) have Strictly-On-A-Stick. That's where Knott's Berry Farm sells their best corn dogs. This to-go stand is located near Knott's Timber Mountain Log Ride inside the Ghost Town section of the park. This corn dog stand is home to much more than your average corn dog.
At Strictly-On-A-Stick, Knott's makes a pretty excellent corn dog. The batter is a perfect combination of sweet and savory. The hot dog within is rich and warm. As one reviewer on Restaurant Guru says, "the taste of the hot dog was solid." Year-round, you should also be able to get your hands on a boysenberry corn dog and deep-fried cheese on a stick.
Knott's also has deluxe corn dogs served seasonally. The Dilly Dilly Dog is sometimes sold as part of Knott's annual Peanuts celebration. The Dilly Dilly Dog, as described by LA Foodie, "is a hot dog stuffed inside a juicy pickle stuffed inside crispy corn batter stuffed inside your mouth." Then there's Strictly-On-A-Stick hot Cheeto corn dog. This particular corn dog is normal until the very exterior is dipped in Hot Cheetos dust. That's when things become spicy and messy. Per CP Food Blog, it's also served with nacho cheese dip. Like the pickle corn dog, you can only get the hot Cheeto dog at certain times. Usually, this spicy dog is available during Fall-O-Ween celebrations at Knott's.
This is one of the simplest pleasures you can indulge in at Knott's Berry Farm. You can find it at the Mix-It-Up Ice Cream Shop, where the Cookiewich is also sold. Since the Cookiewich contains soft-serve ice cream, of course, you can get soft-serve ice cream separately at this shop. There are flavors of boysenberry, vanilla, or chocolate available.
We recommend the boysenberry soft-serve, for so many reasons. Like other boysenberry-flavored products sold at Knott's, this dessert offers the opportunity to try something rare. The boysenberry flavor is not something you'll always come across outside of the park. Aesthetically, the purple-fuchsia color of the soft serve is something special. With the current ube trend popping off, we think you'll want to snap a picture of the boysenberry soft serve during your theme park visit. But that's not all there is to say. The soft serve is portable. Place it in a cone and it will easily be finished while waiting for the Xcelerator. What's more, it's lighter than the Cookiewich. You're more likely to squeeze in a boysenberry soft serve after a heavier meal.
We're not the only ones who appreciate it. CP Food Blog wrote, "The boysenberry soft serve is very flavorful with hints of the essence of boysenberry infused into the product. We would absolutely get the boysenberry soft serve again as the light, refreshing taste really hit the spot." On Yelp, one user wrote, "YOU MUST get the boysenberry soft serve ice cream!!! DELICIOUS!" Twist our arms.