Sugared Cranberries

Sugared cranberries are a statement dish for your holiday menu. Serve them with a cheese board or as a cocktail garnish! Your friends will ohh and ahh over this easy recipe. 

Cranberries with sugar in a bowl.

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Sugared Cranberries recipe

Thanksgiving is just around the corner! Are you so excited? I sure am. It’s one of my favorite holidays. Arguably my favorite holiday, actually. It’s just so nice to gather around the table with family and friends enjoy food together.

These sugared cranberries are a new favorite for the holiday season! They’re a perfect, easy recipe to bring to a Thanksgiving or Christmas party as a snack, put out with a cheese board or use to garnish holiday cocktails.

The recipe for easy sugared cranberries is so simple. Juicy cranberries are coated in simple syrup, then dusted in granulated sugar. Can you say YUM?

Plus, the way they glisten in the bowl is so pretty. (I mean, they are nicknamed sparkling cranberries for a reason.)

More garnish recipes: Berry Ice CubesCinnamon Sugar RimHomemade SprinklesRosemary Ice Cubes

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • You can make this sugared cranberries recipe ahead of time and then focus on other holiday dishes that need to be made the day of your party!
  • This recipe is naturally gluten free and even fits into many other dietary restrictions. Great to serve if you are hosting guests with specific dietary needs.
  • Not only can you eat these as a simple dessert, but they can be served as a gorgeous garnish on any festive cocktail.

That last one is the best. You can serve sugared cranberries on cranberry mimosas and have the most festive holiday table around. There are so many uses for this yummy recipe.

Sugared cranberries arranged in a bowl with a gold spoon.

Ingredients

You only need three simple ingredients to make this festive cranberry recipe. Such a snap to make! If you need a last-minute dessert garnish for all of your holiday desserts, just throw this together in time for Christmas dinner. Here are the basic ingredients you’ll need:

  • cranberries: A bag of fresh cranberries always tend to do best with this sugar-coated cranberries recipe. You can use frozen cranberries; however, they will not retain their liquid and shape for as long as fresh berries. You could make this with dried cranberries, which would give them a Raisin Bran-like texture, which would be delicious on a salad or bowl of oatmeal.
  • simple syrup: This recipe for simple syrup is quite easy. Much better flavor than anything you can buy at the grocery store.
  • granulated white sugar: There are lots of different sugars, but I recommend finding one that is somewhere between a superfine sugar granules and coarse sugar.

Someone told me that these candied cranberries taste like natural Sour Patch Kids. I thought it was so funny, but so true! The contrast of the tart berries with the sweet sugar coating makes them taste a lot like the popular candy.

Cranberries in a bowl with sprigs of rosemary.

I made sugared cranberries a few weeks ago when I attended the Saveur Blog Awards in Cincinnati.* One of our afternoon activities was putting together a cheese board for a food styling workshop, so I picked up sugar and cranberries and got to work.

My pals Lauren and Mackenzie from The World in a Pocket shared an Airbnb with me, and they helped me make sugared cranberries.

Together we navigated our way through a VERY sparse kitchen. I actually made my sugared cranberries in a colander! So if we can do that, you can make these at your house.

Tools & equipment

Here’s a few tools you may need:

  • A small saucepan will be needed to make the simple syrup.
  • Make sure a wire rack on hand to let the simple syrup mixture dry on the tart berries before tossing them in a sugary coating. If you don’t have one of those, parchment paper and a baking sheet will work too.
  • You’ll need a fine mesh strainer to drain excess syrup.
  • Measuring cups and measuring spoons are always a necessary tool. Make sure you are measuring the perfect cup amount of cane sugar and simple syrup.
Cranberries coated in sugar.

How to make Sugared Cranberries

Using a small saucepan, make your own sugary simply syrup. You can skip this step if you are using a store-bought syrup.

Then stir the cranberries into the syrup to coat them well. Drain off excess syrup with a fine-mesh strainer.

Keep the leftover simple syrup for cocktails if you like! If you do, you’ll need a glass food storage container or mason jar.

Then you’ll lay your cranberries out to dry. I use a wire baking rack but you can lay wax paper down on a cookie sheet. Just be warned they will be sticky! Let them sit for about an hour. 

Once the coated cranberries are dry, toss them into a large bowl of sugar so that each berry has an even sugar coating.

I used granulated sugar for these because it’s what I had on hand, but you can also use organic cane sugar. The grain of the sugar is going to give them that snowy, sugary look. 

Place into your favorite serving bowl to serve with other holiday treats or use as a garnish on your favorite cocktail!

closeup of sugared cranberries on a cranberry mimosa.

Uses for sugared cranberries

Sugared cranberries would look perfect as a garnish for my yule mule cocktail or my poinsettia champagne cocktail. This vanilla cranberry old-fashioned can be jazzed up with some glittering berries too!

Make any other simple cocktail with cranberry simple syrup, and use these sparkling cranberries as a lovely addition atop each drink.

This Christmas charcuterie board would benefit from these tart, yet sweet, sugary cranberries too.

For a fun change, skip the cranberry sauce with your Thanksgiving turkey and serve these berries instead! They’d be a perfect garnish on your Christmas ham platter too.

You can even use these berries as a beautiful topping for cupcakes or dutch poffertjes.

Cranberries in a bowl with sugared cranberries and rosemary sprigs.

Tips & tricks

Here are some tips and tricks for making this recipe:

  • Make sure cranberries are spread out into a single layer as the syrup layer dries. You won’t want them to dry in one giant clump!
  • If you are having trouble getting all of the cranberries dusted in sugar, toss them in the sugar in smaller quantities. Bit by bit, you can get through the whole batch.
  • Don’t be afraid to use your hands when tossing berries in sugar. Sometimes a spoon just doesn’t do the trick.
Sugared cranberries in a bowl with sprigs of rosemary.

FAQ

Are candied cranberries healthy?

Of course, too much sugar isn’t the healthiest thing but these sugared cranberries are a far healthier option than many other holiday desserts! Cranberries have quite a few nutritional benefits and can be a very healthy fruit to consume.

Why won’t the sugar stick to the cranberries?

If you are having trouble getting the sugar to stick to the berries, you may not have tossed them in enough simple syrup. The next time you try them, make sure you use enough syrup. If you are still having trouble, your sugar may be too coarse. Use a finer granulated sugar and see if that helps!

Sugared cranberries in a gold spoon.

More cranberry recipes

— Did you make this recipe? —

Please leave a ★★★★★ review or comment below.

Cranberries in a bowl with sugared cranberries and rosemary sprigs.

Sugared Cranberries

Yield: 3 .5 cups
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Sugared Cranberries are a sweet and sparkly way to decorate cheese boards, cocktails and holiday menus.
5 from 57 votes
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ingredients

for the simple syrup

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water

for the cranberries

  • cups cranberries approx. 7 ounces
  • ½ cup simple syrup
  • ½ cup granulated sugar

instructions

Simple Syrup

  • First, make the simple syrup. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together sugar and water until dissolved.
  • Remove from heat. Let cool completely.
  • Transfer to a glass jar and seal tightly with a lid.
  • Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. 

Sugared Cranberries

  • In a medium bowl, combine cranberries and simple syrup. Stir to coat all the cranberries.
  • With a fine mesh strainer, drain off any excess simple syrup into a mason jar. Discard or reserve for cocktails if desired.
  • Lay the coated cranberries out to dry on a wire baking rack for one hour.
  • Put cranberries in a bowl and coat with granulated sugar.
  • Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

notes

Here are some tips and tricks for making this recipe:
  • Make sure cranberries are spread out into a single layer as the syrup layer dries. You won't want them to dry in one giant clump!
  • If you are having trouble getting all of the cranberries dusted in sugar, toss them in the sugar in smaller quantities. Bit by bit, you can get through the whole batch.
  • Don't be afraid to use your hands when tossing berries in sugar. Sometimes, a spoon just doesn't do the trick.
Uses for sugared cranberries:
  • Cocktail or mocktail garnish (on a cocktail pick/skewer)
  • Decoration for cakes and cupcakes
  • Garnish on a platter of turkey or ham.
  • Colorful addition to a charcuterie board or cheese plate
  • Sprinkled on a lunch salad or morning oatmeal

recommended products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

nutrition information

Yield: 3 .5 cups

amount per serving:

Calories: 106kcal Carbohydrates: 27g Sodium: 1mg Fiber: 2g Sugar: 24g
did you make this recipe?Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #feastandwestrecipes!

*I mentioned the Saveur Blog Awards above. My blog was a finalist in the Best Entertaining Blog category, and although it did not win, I am so humbled to have had this experience. I got to visit lovely Cincinnati with some of the other finalists, and I had the best time. Thank you so much for nominating Feast + West and for voting for me! It means the world. 

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Comments

  1. Anna says

    Cranberry is my big love: it evokes the best memories of my childhood in the North: I picked these berries in the woods with my grandparents. It was really lovely up there!
    I like the way cranberries go with cheese and meat. I even have my own recipe of cranberry sauce (thinking about posting it btw).
    Thank you for sharing this recipe, Susannah! These sugared cranberries look delicious. I imagine their sweet and sour taste…

    • Susannah says

      Hi Anna! I am so glad you shared this story. That sounds like so much fun! A precious memory. Cranberry sauce is the absolute best, so you should totally share your recipe! Thanks so much for stopping by to comment. 🙂

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