Sugared Cranberries: A Festive Touch For Your Celebrations

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Make easy festive sugared cranberries, just like you see in holiday movies! These sparkling cranberries are a sweet and tart treat perfect for adding a festive touch to desserts or enjoying a fun snack.

Cranberries take center stage in fall, and not just for cranberry sauce. These jewel-like, sugar-coated treats are as pretty as a holiday ornament. And they’re sooo easy to make – with just three basic ingredients: cranberries, sugar, and water.

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These tiny, tart, and sweet morsels make for an excellent snack, a stunning dessert garnish, or even a gorgeous edible centerpiece at your holiday table. They’re like little jewels that add a pop of color and a burst of sweet-tart flavor to every bite.

Whether you’re sprinkling them on ice cream, garnishing your cocktails, or snacking straight from the container (no judgment here), these sugared cranberries are a holiday treat you’ll want to keep around year-round.

In this post, we’ll delve into the world of these sparkling little gems, discussing everything from the simple sugar-coating process to some creative ways to use these beauties in your festive meals.

Looking for more fall favorites? Try apple upside down cake, pumpkin dump cake or pumpkin pie crescent rolls for more tasty fall treats!

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🥘Ingredient Notes

For exact amounts needed see the recipe card below

There are just three simple ingredients.

  • Cranberries: I try to use fresh cranberries. They’re tart, tangy, and pack a punch that’s just perfect for this recipe. Fresh ones also handle the heat better without turning mushy. Frozen ones will work if you’re in a pinch, but let them thaw before you start.
  • Sugar: Sugar is what gives the cranberries a beautiful, frosty look. Use granulated sugar for the best results.
  • Water: Just a regular tap water will do. We’re using it to make a simple syrup to soak the cranberries, which helps the sugar adhere to their surface.

🥣The Step-by-Step Guide on How to Make Sugared Cranberries

  1. Start by boiling half a cup of sugar with half a cup of water in a medium saucepan. Let it simmer for about 2 minutes. You’re creating a simple syrup here.
  2. Now, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cranberries. Make sure to coat every one of those little red orbs in the syrup.
  3. Next, using a slotted spoon, fish out the cranberries and lay them out on a parchment-lined tray. Try to separate them as much as possible. They need their space to dry out properly.
  4. Let them sit and dry for about an hour.
  5. Once they’re dry, toss them in the remaining sugar. Roll them around until they’re evenly coated. At this point, they should look like a winter’s frost has kissed them.
Making the sugared syrup.
Making the sugar syrup
Mixing the cranberries with sugar.
Add the cranberries
Cranberries drying after mixing in sugar syrup.
Dry the cranberries
Sugared cranberries drying.
Roll in more sugar

🍴Serving Ideas for Sugared Cranberries

If you’re anything like me, the moment that tray of sparkly frosted cranberries comes out of the fridge, it’s like a moth to a flame. You just can’t resist! But it’s worth saving some to jazz up your dishes.

A personal favorite in our house is sprinkling these little gems on top of vanilla ice cream. The kids go wild for what they refer to as “Santa’s ice cream.”

The tart cranberries perfectly counterbalance the sweet creaminess of the ice cream. And they are a beautiful garnish during the holiday season for Christmas treats like a yule log cake or cranberry upside down cake.

But don’t stop at the dessert. These cranberries can be the star of your brunch, too. Try them atop your Christmas pancakes and waffles, or mix them into your favorite muffin batter.

And if you want to get fancy, use these sugared cranberries on a gingerbread house, a charcuterie board, or as a garnish for cocktails. Picture this: a cranberry Moscow mule with a sugared cranberry garnish. It’s like Christmas in a glass!

Sugared cranberries on top of a cake.

💭How to Store

To store the sugared cranberries, pop them into an airtight container and keep them in the fridge. You can keep them refrigerated for up to a week. Remember to separate layers with wax paper or parchment paper to prevent sticking.

You can also freeze sugared cranberries. By freezing them, you can have a stash ready for whenever the cranberry craving strikes. Just freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet before transferring them to a freezer-safe container.

They’ll keep for up to a month. Once you defrost them, consume them immediately. They won’t hold up well if you try to refreeze.

❓Do Sugared Cranberries Actually Taste Good?

These look cute, but you might wonder if a bit of sugar makes raw cranberries taste good! Well if you like sour and tart things, you will like them. They are sweet and tangy and sour.

So, if Sour Patch Kids are a beloved candy, you’ll like these candied cranberries. They are sweet on the outside with a burst of puckery flavor on the inside. On the other hand, if you hate sour candy, stick to using these as decorations!


Be sure to check out the step by step instructions

  • Double sugar coating: Cranberries are tart and need a sweet companion to bring out their best. So, this recipe uses a two-step sugar process. First, they are doused in hot sugar water and then rolled in granulated sugar.
  • Don’t rush the drying process: Once coated, they’ll need to dry. They should dry for about an hour, but if you can, leave them overnight.


How long do sugared cranberries last?

Sugared cranberries can last up to a week if stored properly. Just make sure to keep them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Can I use frozen cranberries?

Absolutely! Frozen cranberries can substitute fresh ones, especially when not in season. Just let them thaw completely and pat them dry before coating them with sugar.

What can I use sugared cranberries for?

Sugared cranberries can be used for anything – from dressing up your holiday desserts to being a sweet snack. Or use them as a festive garnish for holiday cocktails.

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Sugared cranberries on top of a cranberry upside down cake.
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Sugared Cranberries Recipe

Published By Anne
Add a touch of elegance to your holiday table! Make irresistibly vibrant sugared cranberries for a pop of color and sweet-tart goodness to your desserts.
Prep Time15 minutes
Drying Time2 hours
Total Time2 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 8
Print Save Rate Pin


  • 3 cups fresh cranberries
  • 2 cups sugar divided
  • ½ cup water


  • Bring ½ cup white sugar and ½ cup water to a boil on medium heat in a medium saucepan.
    2 cups sugar, ½ cup water
  • Boil for 2 minutes.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add the cranberries to the simple sugar syrup in the saucepan and stir.
    3 cups fresh cranberries
  • Using a slotted spoon, remove the cranberries from the saucepan and place them onto a parchment-lined tray or a wire rack, separating them as best you can.
  • Let the cranberries dry for 1 hour.
  • After 1 hour, roll cranberries in the remaining sugar to coat, then let them dry for another hour.
    2 cups sugar


  • Store these in an airtight container in the fridgefor up to 1 week.
  • Frozen cranberries can substitute fresh ones, especially when not in season. Just let them thaw completely and pat them dry before coating them with sugar.
  • Use these to decorate holiday desserts or as a snack all by themselves.

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

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Nutrition Information

Calories: 210kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 0.2g | Fat: 0.2g | Saturated Fat: 0.003g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.02g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 31mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 52g | Vitamin A: 23IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 0.1mg

Nutrition facts are estimates.

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Sugared cranberries in a wooden bowl on a wooden table.
Photo credit: Depositphotos.

Hi, I’m Anne!

I love to cook and I want to share my recipes with you. I believe cooking should be approachable and fun, not a chore. I want to make simple recipes using everyday ingredients that you can make again and again, whether it is for a busy weeknight, a summer cookout or a special dessert. Read more...

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