Quick and easy Sugared Cranberries make a beautiful garnish on cakes, pies, or cocktails and make a delicious sweet treat for your holiday celebrations! [ VIDEO in recipe card ]
This recipe was first published November 2015 and has been updated December 2021 with new photos and recipe notes. The recipe remains unchanged.
A Festive Holiday Treat
Three ingredients y’all for these easy sugared cranberries (aka candied cranberries, frosted cranberry or sparkling cranberries). Whatever you call em’, they’re easy to make and fun to share for November and December festivities.
A quick (hands on time) recipe that’s so impressive during the holidays.
And just look at that color!
How to Make Sugared Cranberries
Super simple to whip up, but plan ahead because the candied cranberries need to set undisturbed at room temperature for about an hour. In summary, here’s how to make em’ (see recipe card below for details):
- First, make a simple syrup ( sugar water ) by mixing one cup sugar and one cup water in a sauce pot over medium heat.
- Second, place the fresh cranberries in the simple syrup and steep for 10 minutes.
- Next, drain the cranberries and allow to dry for an hour.
- Last, toss the candied cranberries in sugar.
Be sure to hold on to that simple syrup. It’s perfect for cocktails!
Sugared Cranberries FAQs
What Do Sugared Cranberries Taste Like?
Candied cranberries are sweet and sour, but balanced. The cranberry pops under the pressure of a bite, an exhilarating sensation I might add, then sweetness kicks in leaving a bold experience of both sweet and sour. Can cranberry sauce do that?
Make a 1/2 batch, full, double or triple based on needs. Your family and guests will appreciate them.
How Do I Store Sugared Cranberries?
You’re probably wondering how long do sugared cranberries last? If you store them properly in an airtight container, they can last up to three – four days. Store sugar coated cranberries at room temperature. The fresher the cranberries, the longer they’ll last. After a few days, you may notice the sugar ‘weaping.’ At this point and if the candied cranberries are still firm, you can simply toss them in sugar again to give them a refresher.
Pro Tip: A small bowl of rice stored in the lidded container with the cranberries absorbs excess moisture in the air keeping the cranberries fresher, longer.
Do Sugared Cranberries Need to be Refrigerated?
These sparkling cranberries do not need to be refrigerated. Simply store at room temperature.
Can Sugared Cranberries be Frozen?
I’ve had the same question about frozen sugared cranberries and so I tested it. After freezing they looked perfect straight from the freezer, but as they thawed, the sugar melted and the cranberries turned to mush.
So, I don’t recommend freezing sugared cranberries. Fresh works best for this application.
What Kind of Sugar Should I Use?
In these pictures I use cane sugar. But if you take a look at the video in the recipe card, you’ll see granulated sugar can be used as well! I like cane sugar because it’s a larger grain of sugar and a bit more sparkly. But granulated sugar is more like a snowy coating of sugar. They’ll be beautiful either way!
Sugared Cranberries for Garnish with Cocktails
Sugared Cranberries for Cocktails are festive and a lovely addition to holiday libations. They’re sparkly and make festivities feel extra special.
To enjoy these candy cranberries as a garnish, simply slip a few through stainless steel cocktail picks and set on the rim of a cocktail glass.
Candied Cranberries Variations
Sugared Cranberries and Rosemary: Simply place a sprig of fresh rosemary in with the simple syrup as you’re making the simple syrup and steeping the cranberries.
With Vanilla: Place a scraped vanilla bean in with the simple syrup and while steeping the cranberries.
With Orange: Add orange peel to the simple syrup with a squeeze of orange juice and steep the cranberries with the orange peel.
A Few Recipe Notes
- Plan ahead: While this sugared cranberries recipe require very little hands on time to prepare, they need one hour to dry out.
- Don’t throw out that sugar syrup! It’s fabulous in cocktails or to brush on tops of cakes.
- Double Batch: Make a full batch, double (pictured) or triple based on needs.
How to Enjoy Sugared Cranberries
- Pop em’ in your mouth.
- Garnish a cocktail, may I suggest The Big Sister, Winter Punch or this Cranberry Orange Gin Smash.
- Top Gingerbread Cake slices or cupcakes.
- Top sweet potato mash.
- Scatter them on top of all your holiday pies like these gluten free Mini Pumpkin Pies, Pecan Pie or Vegan Bourbon Pecan Pie.
- Save the sugar syrup for cocktails!
- They’re festive as an offering on a cheese board or appetizer table, shared along side Olive Tapenade, Artichoke Hummus or Roasted Red Pepper Hummus.
Watch a Video Below to See How Simple These Are to Make!
Sugared Cranberries Recipe
- 1/2 cup (120 grams) Water
- 3/4 cup (175 grams) Cane Sugar divided
- 1 cup (115 grams) Fresh Cranberries
- In a small sauce-pot, whisk water and 1/2 cup (135 grams) of sugar to combine. Bring just to a simmer and whisk until sugar is dissolved. Add a scraped vanilla bean pod if desired. Remove from heat and stir in the cranberries so that they are coated evenly with the sugar syrup. Cover and let steep for 10 minutes.
- Strain, reserving the syrup*. Separate the cranberries and place on a piece of parchment paper on a wire cooling rack. Allow to dry out at room temperature for one hour.
- Place the remaining sugar on a plate and transfer the cranberries to the plate, rolling the cranberries in the sugar to coat. This is sticky, but as the cranberries get coated, they wont stick to your hands as much.
- Place the cranberries in a lidded container with a little pinch bowl of rice ( a couple of teaspoons ). The rice helps keep the cranberries fresh by absorbing any moisture in the air. Sugar loves water and will pull it right out of the air making your cranberries soggy quicker than if not using the rice. The cranberries will stay fresh for two days or up to four depending on how fresh the cranberries are. After two-three days, you may notice the cranberries "weeping." To freshen them up again, simply toss them with more sugar.
Hello Traci, few years ago I worked as a Cheese Monger at a large local grocer.
I made more cheese boards than I could possibly count. 75% of those orders requested sugared cranberries/grapes. At the holidays I had one assistant just making the berries/grapes. If Brie was requested I made wreaths with the berries mint leaves and thin orange rind twists. They are beautiful!raf
Your brie wreath sounds lovely! Thank you for sharing your tip and idea! Happy Hollydaze BertaAnne!
Can I use this method for raspberries & blueberries?
Hi Peggi! I’m afraid raspberries wouldn’t hold up. I’m thinking blueberries *may work, but since I’ve not tried it, I just don’t know.
Hello, speaking from experience, blueberries will work if you work quick and use the firmest,cold, berries you can find. While working as a Cheese Monger I found many ways to use fruits, especially on cheese boards.raf
Thank you for sharing BertaAnne!
These are one of may favorite holiday garnishes and it’s great to have the simple syrup on hand for cocktails and baking as well. The rice storage tip is key!
Thank you Jean! Aren’t they SO fun!?
Just finished doing my cranberries for a cake topping. My berries are beautiful. Definitely giving this 5 stars.
Do you place the cranberries on top of the rice to store them?
Hi Sue! They don’t need to be touching. I simply put the rice in a little pinch bowl and set it in the storage container with the Sugared crans.
Can you use these to decorate hurricane with candles.
Hey Priscilla, thank you for your note… while I’ve not tried it, this link may be able to answer your question: https://www.pinterest.com/doximom55/decorating-with-cranberries/ Pinterest saves the day!
I have a silly question. Store them with raw rice ? Does it matter brown or white ?
Hey Chelsy! I use white rice, but have never tried brown. Because the bran has been stripped off white rice, it may absorb moisture better. If you experiment, I’d love to know what you find! :D
Just started to read your blog. The pictures are beautiful. Tomorrow I’m going to make your Dutch Baby. I don’t mean to be critical – just was reading the above recipe and wanted to tell you that there is a small typo. You wrote Place instead of Plate. No big deal, but I did have to read it a couple of times.
Can’t wait to peruse the rest of your site.
Hi Ann. So sorry about that. Thank you for your note! I hope you enjoy the Dutch Baby!
Katie @ Garnish Blog
Thanks again for the recipe! I used them to garnish my Autumn Cranberry Old Fashioned: http://www.garnishblog.com/2015/12/autumn-cranberry-old-fashioned.html
Hi Katie! Your Old Fashioned is gorgeous! Delicious work my dear and thank you for your shout out! :D
Love this… what a perfect cocktail garnish. Will definitely try this recipe soon!
Thank you Dulcie! May I suggest this one? http://vanillaandbean.com/the-big-sister/ I hope you enjoy these tasty treats!
So fun and gorgeous, Traci! Yes, would be so pretty on cakes, platters, and all things holiday! Beautiful photos as always!
Thank you so much Emily! These were fun to make and indeed, so pretty on cakes, platter and everything holiday! I’m not sure they’d get that far around here, though. They’re to easy to pop in one’s mouth! :D
Beeta @ Mon Petit Four
What gorgeous sugared cranberries! I love decorating with them. I don’t really have a cranberry sauce recipe per se as I usually eye it and use whatever I have on hand, but usually it’s a mixture of cranberries, fresh Oj, orange zest, and cranberry juice! :)
Beeta @ Mon Petit Four
Oh and maple syrup!
Like Jewels, no? I’m seeing fresh OJ and zest used a lot… maybe I need to add copious amounts to my next trial. I love citrus with cranberries! Thank you my dear! :D
I just made these to take as hostess gifts for Thanksgiving. They.are.so.good! I’m happy I had a few leftover; been popping them like candy! Saved the syrup and will be making those drinks for a birthday party on Satuday. Thanks for the great idea!
Hooray Stacey! Thank you for letting us know your success! I hope the hostess loves them as much as we do… Let us know too, how The Big Sister turns out! Happy Thanksgiving my dear! :D
I love cranberry sauce, bet I would love these, too! I am imagining them on a leafy salad with blue cheese and walnuts…or a fruit salad! And I agree with you about the cane sugar. Gorgeous!
Oooooh…… Yesss, Deb!! What a great idea! Sweet, salty, tart crunch! I love it! What kind of dressing? Thank you my dear!
Nora | Savory Nothings
I absolutely love cranberry sauce, but I also absolutely love sugared cranberries. I guess I just generally love cranberries, full stop ;) Your pictures are so incredibly gorgeous Traci! I could stare at them forever.
Thank you Nora! Perhaps these little poppers will be a new entry into my love of cranberry relish/sauce? :D
Meghan | Fox and Briar
I have been wondering about these sugared cranberries. They are so pretty but I was worried they would be too tart – you have convinced me to try them! Also it is such a great idea to save the syrup for cocktails. I do like homemade cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving, I like the sweet and savory combo that you get by having just a little on your plate next to the turkey and stuffing. Plus, it is essential for the Day After Thanksgiving Sandwich! I make a super simple recipe with just some water, sugar, orange zest and cranberries.
I know Meghan! I used to think that too until I gave em’ a go. They are still tart, but the sugar really balances out the sharpness. No doubt the day after Sandwich. Sometimes it seems that’s more on the brain than the actual feast! People love sandwiches! hehe.
I have never made them but have always wanted to…they’re as pretty as they are flavorful, I’m sure. I shared a little nod to my cranberry applesauce on IG earlier today…you just might like it – it’s on the sweeter side with warm cinnamon undertones and a bright citrusy zest. Wishing you a lovely holiday, my dear! xo
Yes, yessss!! They are Annie, and sooo easy. You’d love them! I did see your cranberry applesauce on IG! I’ll be checkin it out. The cinnamon and bright citrus sounds just fabulous! Thank you my dear!
Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen
I have never made sugared cranberries, but they look so pretty and sound delicious. I will definitely give them a try Traci! Thanks for sharing and I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Oh you’d love them, Mary Ann! Thank you my dear… you have a beautiful holiday as well! :D
Geraldine | Green Valley Kitchen
I’m not a huge cranberry sauce fan either but these sugared cranberries treats look lovely – the sweetness of the sugar and the tartness of the cranberries sound like a perfect combination. I love the idea of pairing them with cocktails! Your photos, as always, are gorgeous. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Traci!
Yeah! Geraldine… we’re on the same train with cranberry sauce. Adding them to cocktails is the best! :D