Sugared Cranberries

sugared cranberries

The Spruce / Diana Rattray

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Chill & Dry Time: 3 hrs
Total: 3 hrs 20 mins
Servings: 10 servings

Sugared cranberries are sweet-tart treats that deserve a place in your holiday celebrations. They're incredibly easy to prepare—all you have to do add cranberries to some simmered simple syrup, let them dry, toss them in sugar, and you're done!

Use these sweet sugared cranberries to add a festive look to any frosted cake or include them as a garnish for cocktails or a Christmas punch. Thread a few onto a decorative skewer and add them to an elegant poinsettia cocktail, cranberry margaritas, or a classic sea breeze. They can help gussy up a holiday appetizer tray, too.

The simple syrup is as easy as its name implies. It's made with an equal amount of sugar and water. After the cranberries have soaked, don't throw that syrup away! Use it in cocktails or mocktails or as a sweetener for party punches or spiced wine. It's a wonderful way to moisten cakes as well. Brush simple syrup lightly over cakes and cupcakes before frosting to add an extra layer of moisture and sweetness.

While frozen can be used, fresh cranberries are recommended for the very best flavor and texture.


  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar (divided)
  • 1 (12-ounce) bag cranberries

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients for sugared cranberries
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the water with 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar. Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for a minute or two, or until the sugar is dissolved.

    simmer the simple syrup mixture
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  3. Rinse the cranberries thoroughly and pick them over. Discard any malformed or soft berries. Put the cranberries in a large bowl and add the syrup. Place a plate over the cranberries to keep them submerged. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, or overnight.

    sugared cranberries seeping in a bowl of simple syrup
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  4. Place a cooling rack in a large, rimmed baking pan. With a slotted spoon, remove the cranberries to the cooling rack. They should be spread out in a single layer. Let them dry for about 1 hour. They will be sticky but shouldn't be wet.

    dry the cranberries on a rack
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  5. Put the remaining 1 cup of sugar in a large bowl. Add the cranberries, a few at a time, and toss gently to coat thoroughly.

    cranberries in container of sugar
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  6. Use the sugared cranberries immediately or store on a rack in a cool, dry place. Or place a small bowl of rice in a larger covered container and add the sugared cranberries. The rice will absorb much of the moisture. If the cranberries weep, repeat the sugaring.

    sugared cranberries with christmas ribbons
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  7. Pour the leftover simple syrup into a covered jar or container and refrigerate it for up to 2 weeks.

    sugared cranberries and simple syrup
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray


  • Coat the cranberries with superfine or regular granulated sugar. Coarser cane sugar is also an excellent choice.

Recipe Variations

  • For extra flavor, add a cinnamon stick to the simmering syrup or add 1 tablespoon of vanilla to the syrup.
  • Replace the water with orange juice.