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Sugared Cranberries

How to make sugared cranberries. Great for decorating desserts like cakes, using in goods baked like holiday cookies or simply as a sweet snack!

Sugared cranberries on tray

As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m not a huge fan of regular cranberries. Usually they are too sour for my liking, even when prepared in other dishes.

That’s why I made a sweeter version of cranberry sauce with fruit juice and honey.

I must be behind the times, because I only recently heard of sugared cranberries.

Typically they are used for extra decoration for cakes and the like, and the first I saw them they looked almost too pretty to eat!

If you want to use them as display for another dessert, you’ll need to have a little more patience than me – I got too excited to make the next recipe that features these cranberries and started to rush through the sugar coating application.

Also, I tried to make these “healthier” by cutting the sugar down from what I have seen. These still have a slight tang to them so if you like sweet & sour things, you’ll love these!

cranberries soaking in simple syrup in pot

First you want to make the “lighter” simple syrup.

Basic simple syrup is 1 part water to 1 part sugar. I chose to do a “thin” simple syrup (3 parts water to 1 part sugar) or 1 and 1/2 cups water and 1/2 cup sugar. It definitely keeps a little bit more of the tang by diluting it a bit.

Boil that for a few minutes and then remove from heat once the sugar is dissolved. Let it cool before putting the cranberries in – otherwise they might pop and you’ll end up with cranberry sauce!

Here’s where I’ve seen different methods. You can let the cranberries sit in the sugar water for anywhere from 10 minutes on the counter, to overnight in the refrigerator. However much time you have. 

After the cranberries have soaked in the sugar water, drain (don’t rinse), spread out on a tray or parchment paper, and let dry for an hour.

cranberries after soaking in simple syrup

Now time for the hands-on (i.e. fun) part – roll them in some more sugar!

This is where I got impatient – and why the sugar isn’t exactly evenly distributed on the ones in this picture. Still delicious!

After coating in sugar, let dry for a bit more and then you’ll be able to eat, decorate, or gift them away.

I used these as a topping for sugar cookies, and you could also add them to decorate this cocktail recipe to make it extra festive!

Sugared cranberries after rolling in sugar
Yield: 3 cups

Sugared cranberries

Sugared cranberries. Great for decorating desserts or a sweet snack!

Sugared cranberries. Great for decorating desserts or a sweet snack!

Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes


For the "light" simple syrup (3 parts water, 1 part sugar):

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup sugar (see notes)

For the cranberries:

  • 1 (13 oz.) package fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar


  1. To make the light simple syrup, add water and sugar to a pot and boil for a few minutes, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat.
  2. After syrup cools slightly, add the package of cranberries. Let the cranberries marinate for 10-15 minutes in the sugar water.
  3. Drain (don't rinse) cranberries and allow to dry on cookie sheet or parchment paper for about an hour.
  4. Add remaining 1/2 cup sugar to a bowl. Roll cranberries through sugar to throughly coat, and place back on tray to dry for a bit more, at least 20 minutes.


  • This recipes uses a "lighter" version of simple syrup (3:1 ratio water to sugar.) A regular simple syrup is 1:1 ratio, so if you'd prefer your cranberries extra sweet you can do that instead!
  • If you have more time, you can let the cranberries steep in the sugar water longer. Anywhere 10 minutes to an hour on the counter, or overnight in the refrigerator!

    Nutrition Information:



    Serving Size:

    1/2 cup

    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 137Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 3mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 1gSugar: 34gProtein: 0g

    Nutrition information is calculated automatically by an online tool at Nutritionix. It is not always accurate. Please use your own tools to check if you rely on this information.

    Sugared cranberries. Great for decorating desserts like cakes, baking in goods like holiday cookies or simply as a sweet snack!


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    Caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy

    Monday 22nd of December 2014

    these look so festive and delicious!

    Meredith @ Unexpectedly Magnificent

    Monday 22nd of December 2014

    Interesting! I've never heard of sugared cranberries before. Does the sugar cut the tang of the cranberries, or enhance it? Cranberries are always a little too concentrated for me. ;)


    Monday 22nd of December 2014

    Same here! The sugar definitely cuts the tang. It's not totally sweet - some of the tang still comes through. But I liked them (especially in other desserts) and I'm a hard-pleaser when it comes to cranberries!

    Julie G.

    Sunday 21st of December 2014

    This looks so amazing! This would look so cute on vanilla cupcakes or maybe in a Christmas punch!


    Monday 22nd of December 2014

    Oo Christmas punch, great idea Julie!

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