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This sparkling and festive Sugared Cranberries Recipe comes together easily with only 3 ingredients. Turn any holiday food, drink, or appetizer into something impressive and beautiful with these sweet and tart candied cranberries.

Sugared cranberries in a gold rimmed bowl set on a white charger and wooden board garnished with sugared rosemary.

The holidays are the perfect time to add a little magic and whimsical to your entertaining. Whether you are having friends over, watching a Christmas movie at home, or taking a spectacular dessert to a Thanksgiving or New Year’s Eve gathering- it’s fun to transform a dish into something spectacular or “fancify” it as I would call it!

These candied cranberries are delicious as a great snack. Plus, they will definitely elevate your cheese board and add beauty to any cocktail or dessert. These sparkling cranberries will light up any dish or occasion this holiday season.

Ingredient Notes

Labeled ingredients needed to make sugared cranberries.
  • Fresh Cranberries: Fresh tart cranberries can typically be found in the produce department of your grocery store between mid-October and December.
  • Water: Water is used to create a simple syrup. This syrup is essential for sweetening and coating the cranberries and allowing the sugar to adhere to them.
  • White Sugar: The best sugar for sugared cranberries is granulated sugar, as it gives the cranberries an even coating, and the granules are the perfect size to make the cranberries look frosted, but you can also different sugars- like cane sugar or organic cane sugar.

Variations and Substitutions

  • Other sweetener options for simple syrup: You can use honey or maple syrup in place of the ½ cup of sugar used to make the syrup. This will create a slightly different flavor profile if you want to change it up.
  • Infused Simple Syrup: You can infuse your simple syrup with other flavors if desired. Simply add to the sugar and water mixture. You may want to let it sit longer to allow more infusion before adding the cranberries. Remove the infusing ingredient before adding cranberries (unless you’re using an extract). Here are some ideas: fresh rosemary, fresh mint, vanilla bean, vanilla extract, maple extract, lemon slices, or orange zest.

How To Make Sugared Cranberries

Be sure to see the recipe card below for exact ingredients and full recipe instructions!

Step 1 | Heat Simple Syrup Mixture

In a saucepan, combine water and granulated sugar to create a simple syrup. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring until the sugar completely dissolves and the syrup comes to a simmer. Once the syrup has slightly thickened, then remove it from the burner.

Step 2 | Stir Cranberries into Simple Syrup

Next, add the cranberries to the syrup and gently stir to coat them evenly (for about 1 minute). This step helps the cranberries absorb the sweet syrup.

Cranberries added to simple syrup and then stirred to coat.

Step 3 | Remove Cranberries

Carefully remove the cranberries from the syrup using a slotted spoon or a strainer, letting any excess syrup drain off. Place the syrup-covered cranberries in a single layer on a wire rack set inside a baking sheet lined with parchment paper to dry for a little while, usually about an hour.

Simple Syrup coated cranberries drying on a wire rack with parchment underneath to catch drips.

Step 4 | Roll Cranberries in Sugar to Coat

After they have dried, roll the sticky cranberries in granulated sugar to coat them thoroughly. You can do this by placing the sugar in a shallow bowl or tray and rolling the sticky cranberries in it until they’re fully coated. I like to work in batches.

Once coated, transfer the sugared cranberries to a parchment-lined baking sheet to dry completely.

Sticky cranberries added to granulated sugar and then moved to a parchment line baking sheet to set.

Now it’s time to use these beauties! The sky is the limit as to how!

Homemade sugared cranberries served in a gold rimmed bowl with sliced white cheddar cheese.

Tips

  • Make sure to rinse and completely dry the cranberries before using. Lay them in a single layer to dry completely and more quickly.
  • Simmer Simple Syrup on low heat for 3 minutes after it’s come to a boil. You want the sugar to dissolve fully and form a slightly thickened syrup for coating each cranberry.
  • Remove Cranberries before they burst. You don’t want them to release juices or soften. You want them to keep their firmness.

Recipe FAQs

What are sugared cranberries?

Sugared cranberries are fresh cranberries that have been coated with sugar, creating a sweet and slightly tart snack or beautiful garnish.

Can I use frozen cranberries?

This recipe works best with fresh cranberries. Frozen cranberries are not recommended as they don’t stay firm after being thawed.

Can I make sugared cranberries in advance for holiday parties

Yes, you can make sugared cranberries a day or two in advance for holiday gatherings and store them in an airtight container until needed.

Can you make this recipe with other berries?

If you don’t enjoy cranberries or want to try this on another berry, this recipe works well with blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries. You could also do this with grapes. Herbs like rosemary or sage look beautiful sugared as well.

An up close image showing sugared cranberries with the sugar dried onto the fresh cranberries.

Storage How long do sugared cranberries stay fresh?

Sugared cranberries can last for a few days if stored properly. Keep them in an airtight container on the countertop for 2-3 days.

They will last up to a week or so in the refrigerator but can create condensation when removed to room temperature. They are just as good, but the appearance may be affected by the condensation.

TIP: If the sugar starts looking moist when storing, you can re-roll them in a little more sugar to freshen them up again.

Ways to Use Sugared Cranberries

Sugared cranberries are beautiful and delicious on their own. They also are a tasty addition to a variety of dishes, both sweet and savory. Here are some ways to use sugared cranberries:

  1. Garnish for Desserts: Sugared cranberries add a festive touch to desserts such as pies, tarts, cheesecakes, cakes, and cupcakes. Place them on top or around the edges of your dessert for an elegant and colorful presentation, like this beautiful White Chocolate Cranberry Tart.
  2. Sprinkle on top of sweet Cranberry Sauce for a beautiful presentation.
  3. Garnish Cocktails, Mocktails, or Festive Drinks: Drop a few into martinis, champagne, Christmas punch, or holiday-themed drinks. They not only look lovely but also provide a burst of sweet and tart flavor as you sip your beverage.
  4. Charcuterie Boards: Sprinkle them on charcuterie boards or cheese platters to add a touch of sweetness and a pop of color. They pair well with cheeses, nuts, and cured meats.
  5. Salad Topping: Use sugared cranberries as a unique salad topping. Their sweet-tart flavor can complement salads with greens, goat cheese, and vinaigrette dressing. Sub out the dried cranberries or add them as a garnish for this Kale Crunch Salad.
  6. Snack: Enjoy them as a sweet and tangy snack on their own. They make a great alternative to traditional candy and are perfect for munching during the holiday season.
  7. Baking and Cooking: Incorporate sugared cranberries into your baked goods, such as muffins, bread, and scones. You can also add them to recipes for main dish recipes, like roasted chicken or Turkey, Ham, or even pork.
  8. Homemade Gifts: Package sugared cranberries in decorative jars or bags and give them as homemade gifts during the holiday season. Pair them with a bottle of sparking cider or wine. This makes for a thoughtful and really gorgeous present.

Be creative and experiment with different ways to incorporate them into your recipes to add a festive touch and a burst of flavor to your dishes.

A white appetizer bowl with sugared cranberries, white cheddar, and wheat crackers.

Other Festive Holiday Recipes

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Homemade sugared cranberries served in a gold rimmed bowl with sliced white cheddar cheese and garnished with sugared rosemary.
Recipe
5 from 7 votes

(click stars to rate)

Sugared Cranberries Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Rest Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 12 servings (makes 3 cups)
Author: Nikki Lee
Sparkling and festive Sugared Cranberries come together easily with only 3 ingredients. Turn any holiday food, drink, or appetizer into something impressive and beautiful with these sweet and tart candied cranberries.
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Ingredients 

  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar, divided
  • ½ cup water
  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed and dried

Instructions

  • In a medium saucepan, combine ½ cup sugar and ½ cup water. Heat until boiling and all sugar is dissolved.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes and the syrup to thicken slightly.
  • Remove from heat and add the cranberries, stir until they are well coated.
  • Using a slotted spoon, remove the berries from the syrup and place them on a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Allow to dry for 1 hour.
  • Working in batches, roll the cranberries in the remaining sugar and set on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Allow to set for 1 hour before serving.

Notes

Storage: Sugared cranberries can last for a few days if stored properly. Keep them in an airtight container on the countertop for 2-3 days.
They will last up to a week or so in the refrigerator but can create condensation when removed to room temperature. They are just as good, but the appearance may be affected by the condensation.
TIP: If the sugar starts looking moist when storing, you can re-roll them in a little more sugar to freshen them up again.
PRO TIPS:
    • Make sure to rinse and completely dry the cranberries before using. Lay them in a single layer to dry completely and more quickly.
    • Simmer Simple Syrup on low heat for 3 minutes after it’s come to a boil. You want the sugar to dissolve fully and form a slightly thickened syrup for coating each cranberry.
    • Remove Cranberries before they burst. You don’t want them to release juices or soften. You want them to keep their firmness.
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Nutrition Information

Serving: 1serving Calories: 109kcal (5%) Carbohydrates: 28g (9%) Protein: 0.1g Fat: 0.1g Saturated Fat: 0.003g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.02g Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g Sodium: 1mg Potassium: 23mg (1%) Fiber: 1g (4%) Sugar: 26g (29%) Vitamin A: 17IU Vitamin C: 4mg (5%) Calcium: 3mg Iron: 0.1mg (1%)

Nutritional Disclaimer

Soulfully Made is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.

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8 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    These were so beautiful, that I decided to feature them in a cocktail I made for a dinner party the other night. Thank you for the great idea!

    1. I bet the cocktail was delicious! I am so glad you used these sugared cranberries. They just add a little something special. Thank you so much for sharing and taking the time to rate our recipe. Enjoy this beautiful holiday season.

    1. Thank you, Erik. These really are something so simple to make that really makes a dish or drink really stand out.