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Sugared cranberries are possibly the easiest and least expensive way to dress up any holiday dessert. Not only is it a fool-proof way off adding pops of color to the dishes they adorn, but they are also so tasty! With a burst of sweet and tart exploding in your mouth with every bite, they may have you eating them by handfuls.

If you love cranberry desserts like we do, don’t miss my fresh cranberry shortbread bars, which are a perfect addition to any cookie plate! Or pair cranberries with apples in a cranberry apple pie with a sweet-tart filling inside a buttery, flaky crust!

An image of sugared cranberries in a bowl.

I can’t remember where I stumbled on sugared cranberries first, but it was probably years ago in the pages of a Food Network magazine or something. These sparkly winter jewels add such a festive touch to any dessert that I can’t resist making them at least once or twice each holiday season.

They were the perfect choice for decorating my cranberry coconut cake this year. I’m really not much of a decorator when it comes to fancy piping or design, but these sugared cranberries make everything look fancy without hardly any effort.

An image of a cranberry coconut cake decorated with sugared cranberries and sprigs of rosemary.

And my kids and I will pop them like candy. They’re pretty impossible to resist.

How to make sugared cranberries

  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the water with 1 cup of the sugar over medium heat. You can use regular granulated sugar, cane sugar, or sugar-in-the-raw for this recipe. Stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Remove the syrup from the heat and add in the fresh cranberries, stirring to coat. Let them soak for 20 minutes.
  3. Drain well (you can save the syrup for cocktails and other beverages) and let the cranberries air dry for about an hour on a wire rack. Once they are tacky to the touch, transfer the cranberries to a bowl with the remaining ½ cup of sugar and toss to completely coat the berries. 
  4. Store the cranberries in an airtight container with a small bowl of uncooked rice next to them. The rice will help to absorb the moisture to keep the cranberries fresh for a couple of days. You can also toss the berries with more sugar if they start getting sticky again.

An image of fresh cranberries that have been soaked in simple syrup drying on a wire rack. An image of sticky syrup soaked cranberries in a bowl of sugar.

What can I use sugar-coated cranberries for?

Sugared cranberries look like they’re covered in the cold frosts of winter, making them the perfect garnish for your holiday desserts like a cranberry coconut cake or a gingerbread cupcake with eggnog buttercream!

But don’t forget about Thanksgiving though as sugared cranberries on a pumpkin pie can really help to have them stand out on that buffet table of nearly identical pies. Of course, the more obvious use of a garnish for these sugar-coated cranberries is on the top of a bowl full of homemade cranberry jello salad.

An image of a bowl of sugared cranberries next to rosemary sprigs.

Can I freeze these sugared cranberries?

Yes, you can freeze them, but if you allow them to thaw, you’ll notice the sugar dissolves and they will get sticky again. So once they begin to do this, run them through some more sugar to coat them and use as desired. I also recommend freezing them on a flat baking sheet before transferring to an airtight container like a Ziploc bag, otherwise they will clump together.

An image of a bowl of sugared cranberries.

More cranberry recipes you’ll love

  1. Cranberry Orange Pull-Apart Monkey Bread
  2. Homemade Cranberry Sauce
  3. Cranberry Apple Pie
  4. Fresh Cranberry Shortbread Bars
  5. Cranberry Jello Salad
  6. White Chocolate Cranberry Blondies  
Sugared Cranberries
Yield: 2 cups

Sugared Cranberries

Sugared cranberries are possibly the easiest and least expensive way to dress up any holiday dessert. Not only is it a fool-proof way off adding pops of color to the dishes they adorn, but they are also so tasty! With a burst of sweet and tart exploding in your mouth with every bite, they may have you eating them by handfuls.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 cup water

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the water with 1 cup of the sugar over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Remove from the heat and add the fresh cranberries, stirring to coat. Let them soak for 20 minutes.
  3. Drain well and let the cranberries air dry for an hour on a wire rack. Once the cranberries are tacky to the touch, transfer them to a bowl with the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and toss to completely coat well.
  4. Store in an airtight container with a small bowl of uncooked rice next to them. The rice will help absorb moisture to keep the cranberries fresh for a couple of days. You can also always toss them with more sugar if they start getting sticky.

Notes

  • These sugared cranberries can be used in so many ways, but I love them as a garnish to my Cranberry Coconut Cake or on pumpkin pie best.
  • You can also use cane sugar or sugar in the raw for a slightly larger sugar crystal.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 210 Total Fat: 0g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 3mg Carbohydrates: 54g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 51g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 0g

Other Holiday Recipes To Help Complete Your Table

  1. Homemade Apple Cider
  2. Soft Homemade Potato Rolls
  3. Easy Southern Cornbread Dressing
  4. The Best Homemade Apple Pie
  5. The BEST Homemade Mashed Potatoes
  6. Fresh Green Bean Casserole
  7. Fruit Salad with Marshmallows and Whipped Cream
  8. Brown Sugar Glazed Ham
  9. Oven Roasted Turkey
  10. Homemade Mac and Cheese