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.