Popular Universal Studios Hollywood Holiday Foods, Ranked From Worst To Best

If you're looking for a fun, family-friendly outing for the holiday, it's hard to top a day at Universal Studios Hollywood. From now until January 9, some extra cheer will be spread throughout the cinema-centric theme park, with multiple events taking place at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, including the Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle light show and holiday musical regalement from the a capella Hogwarts student frog choir.

But the beating heart, if you will, of the celebration is Grinchmas, with a mini-Whoville setting up shop in the middle of the Upper Lot complete with a post office, 65-foot twisty Grinchmas tree, and plenty of opportunities for meet-and-greets with the stars of Dr. Seuss's "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

And yes, there are holiday food and beverages galore, though, notably, you won't find any seasonal eats in The Simpsons swath of the park. D'oh! Still, there are plenty of other spots to grab some festive grub tied to the likes of the Minions, the Grinch, plus the Harry Potter crew, and we're here to guide you to the bites and sips of them all. In the spirit of the season of giving, our gift to you is a ranking of big-time holiday foods being served up at Universal Studios Hollywood. A merry Grinchmas to you all!

Holiday Vanilla Cake Jar

Admit it, we've all been there: You're walking down the baking supply section of the supermarket, and a tub frosting catches your eye. You think to yourself, "Should I?" But then, you immediately shake off the idea of attacking the can solo, because, well, it's a bit extra. Turns out that indulging in the Holiday Vanilla Cake Jar is basically like digging into said frosting tub. And the experience? Well, it is indeed a bit extra.

Along with some thin layers of yellow cake, there is frosting, frosting, and more frosting. And we're not talking six-ingredient buttercream either (apparently that red and green coloring ain't all-natural). On the plus side, the cake is pretty and festive, and the candy beads add some welcome texture but also plenty of sweetness, which this dessert already has way too much of. Maybe consider attaching a hook to the jar and hanging this on your tree — it might be a better ornament than an edible.

Minion Holiday Cookie

At the Minion Cafe, you'll find plenty of food options that capture the irreverence of those loveable yellow scamps: Unicorn Cupcakes, Chicken Bacon Ranch Mac 'n' Cheese, Pulled Pork Grilled with Banana BBQ Sauce (Gru's crew happens to love bananas, in case you didn't know).

Considering the culinary creativity spread throughout the menu, we were expecting a little something special with this holiday cookie beyond a smiling Minion donning a Santa cap, but nope, it's just a sugar cookie with icing. Still, as far as sugar cookies go, it's not too bad. The cookie gently splits rather cracks, and that Minion topping isn't laid on too thick. If you're in need of some stocking stuffers for the young ones or Despicable Me fans of any age, this would fit the bill. One other thing we'd like to note is that this was the only holiday item served at the Minion Cafe, and we wouldn't have been opposed to more offerings.

Grinch Cotton Candy

As we mentioned earlier, Grinchmas is the star atop the Universal Hollywood Christmas tree, and in Whoville and elsewhere throughout the park, you'll find an array of sweet treats revolving around the Dr. Seuss classic. But one item in particular stood out from the rest. We grew a Grinch-like smile when we caught a glimpse of this giant cotton candy puff in the packaging. But as we began to consume the green fluffy treat, something felt off. It wasn't the taste — no, this is tried and true classic cotton candy with plenty of sweetness and a bit of berry bang. Rather, it was the notion that this was intended to be a big bag of Grinch fur and we were stuffing our faces with it. Kind of unsettling, right?

But if you have a bit of a sadistic streak like, say, The Grinch, then you'll have no problem downing this dessert.

Cheese Tamale with Red and Green Sauce

Tamales are traditional eats during Christmas in Mexico, so we were glad to see a cheese-stuffed option on the menu at Cocina Mexicana. We also appreciated the festive touch of including drizzles of both red and green salsas atop the tamale. While the verde had a pleasant tomatillo tang, the rojo was seriously lacking in heat. As for the tamale, the masa was tender, even perhaps a bit too much, and we wish there was more cheese filling.

For a side, you have a choice of warm tortillas or rice and refried beans. We went with the latter, and we were glad we did. The beans arrived hot and weren't too heavy, while the Mexican rice didn't go crazy with the tomato addition, which is a problem we run into too often. The plate would be a lot easier to swallow if the price tag wasn't $13.99 (a second tamale would have been nice), but hey, you gotta pay that theme park tax.

Spiked Hot Chocolate

We were a tad disappointed when the Spiked Hot Chocolate we ordered from Mulligan's Irish Pub arrived in a white cup instead of the as-advertised fancy plastic sipper. Luckily, the drink inside the vessel redeemed the very minor inconvenience. This drink was far better than it could have been. The hot chocolate was thin and a bit watery, and the addition of alcohol was but a mere shot of peppermint schnapps.

And yet ... the drink was far greater than the sum of its parts. The candy cane essence turned out to be a delightful pairing with the mellow cocoa liquid. We also need to give credit to the massive marshmallow, which provided some welcome extra sweetness as well as a bite of holiday cheer. Our advice: Let half of the puffy cube melt into the drink, and chew on the remainder when you get to the bottom. If you're in the presence of young ones or simply aren't in the mood to imbibe (or pay a pretty penny for the shot), head to Whoville for a cup of the non-alcoholic stuff, which comes in peppermint, gingerbread, and classic hot chocolate flavors.

Holiday Turkey Sandwich

We were excited to grab a Waffle Turkey Stack from Mel's Diner, but alas, the American Graffiti-inspired eatery was sold out of the seasonal special. So, we decided to get our lunchtime turkey fix just a few steps away at French Street Bistro, and we were glad we did.

The grab-and-go Holiday Turkey sandwich hit all the right notes. We appreciated the multiple beyond-basic touches that accompanied the thinly sliced turkey breast: baby arugula instead of iceberg lettuce, a buttery croissant instead of white bread, the touch of cranberry tartness added to the aioli, and last but certainly not least, the crispy bacon. Seasonal turkey sandwiches tend to include the greatest hits of Thanksgiving leftovers, and while we won't object to that, this was a welcome change of pace.

Since the sandwich is sitting in the refrigerator case, we recommend waiting a bit (but not too long) before gobbling it down.

Grinch Donut

If you've dug into one of the absurdly ginormous donuts from Lard Lad in the Springfield sector of the park, then this one will be familiar. It's the same soft, airy, yeasty, and slightly greasy (in a good way!) goodness with just the right amount of icing on top. Of course, unless you're feeling particularly gluttonous or happen to be filming a TikTok challenge video, you're going to need some reinforcements to tackle this monstrosity. Seriously, this donut can feed a family of four, which makes the high cost of $9.99 seem somewhat reasonable. Feel free to knife and fork it, but we won't judge you if you tear right in. Just remember to take a photo before you (and hopefully a few others) indulge.

And a message to fans of The Simpsons: If you feel left out of the holiday food celebrations, squint your eyes and pretend this is a Grumple donut. Mmmm, donut.

Frozen Holiday Pear Cider

Isla Nu-Bar, located in the lower lot next to Jurassic World The Ride, is our absolute favorite spot to imbibe at Universal Studios Hollywood. The tiki-themed watering hole always has a fun roster of cocktails, mostly of the tropical variety. While a few spots around the park are serving up hot pear cider, Isla Nu-Bar is the only spot to go for the frozen version. The drink doesn't exactly tick the tiki box, but it was more than welcome refreshment when the mercury began to creep up.

Admittedly, when this first hit our lips, it was a bit of a disappointment, as it packed quite a sour punch. But with each subsequent sip, the slushy cocktail grew on us. The tang settled down as the juicy pear flavor emerged front and center with just a hint of booze and the ground nutmeg topping made its presence known in the background. Our bartender described this as a frozen pear applesauce, which we thought was pretty accurate.

Butternut Squash Soup

That's right, our number two holiday theme park food pick is a plain old soup. Wait, sorry. A plain old vegan soup. As boring as that may sound, we have to stick with our gut on this one. Not only was this a very large cup of hot deliciousness, it was up there with some of the best butternut squash soup we've ever slurped.

Balance is key here. The consistency is perfect — not too thick but not too thin — and so is the flavor, which finds a happy medium between sweet and savory. We also appreciated the tiny chunks of butternut squash, which provided a pleasant texture. This soup has a creaminess to it, but as we mentioned, it's totally vegan. (Perhaps some Harry Potter magic had something to do with it?)

When the sun goes down and a chill emerges in the air, head to French Street Bistro or Jurassic Café, and you'll understand what we're raving about.

English Holiday Meal

Considering its year-round wintery vibe, you would think the Wizarding World of Harry Potter would have a bunch of holiday food items to choose from. Turns out, there's only one seasonal menu addition at Three Broomsticks, the main eatery in Potterville, but it's a banger. The English Holiday Dinner is quite the festive feast. The centerpiece is roasted turkey breast, which is juicy, especially with the addition of the gravy. The scoop of sourdough stuffing is also blessed with a drizzle of gravy.

The sides keep coming. There are not one, but two vegetable accompaniments: pleasantly ginger-glazed carrots and roasted Brussels sprouts with just the right amount of seasoning. Is there cranberry sauce? Of course, there's cranberry sauce! But is there a bacon-wrapped sausage? Well, it's strange that you would ask because that would be kind of unexpected, but, yes, there does happen to be a bacon-wrapped sausage. Sadly, it's the only misfire on the plate, as the bacon is rather limp.

All in all, this is a lot of food, most of it jolly good (especially for theme park standards), but best of all is the price — just $15.99 for the whole shebang. Who said English fare is rubbish?