How to make Sugared Cranberries

If you love a homemade cocktail, Sugared Cranberries are the perfect garnish! Whether you’re mixing up a festive cocktail or mocktail, these homemade candied cranberries add extra sparkle to any happy hour. Makes 1 ½ cups of cranberries.

Sugared cranberries sit atop a Moscow Mule, from above

If you’d have told me that homemade sugar coated cranberries were actually really easy to make a few years back, I would’ve laughed in your face.

In fact, I’d have told you that someone who was fancy needed to make them because that was soooooooo not my speed.

Fast forward a few years, and I make my own sugared cranberries because they’re pretty and perfect for a cocktail hour or even a dinner party.

And they’re actually super simple to make, so long as you give yourself enough time.

Drinks and other recipes that this sugared cranberries recipe pairs beautifully with: Winter Sparkling Champagne Sangria | Cranberry Bellinis | Creamy Cranberry Tart | Leftover Cranberry Sauce Cocktail | Upside Down Cranberry Cake

Need inspiration for cocktails, but don’t know where to begin? Check out my Drinks Recipe Index for some brilliant ideas.

Cranberries sit in a blue colander, from above

What you need to make this recipe:

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Let’s talk ingredients!

In addition to the tools above, you’re going to need some ingredients to make this recipe, too! Chances are, you might already have some of them in your fridge or pantry. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full measurements and instructions.

Here’s what you need:

  • Cranberries—fresh cranberries or thawed frozen cranberries at room temperature are best for this recipe. Do not use dried sweetened cranberries.
  • Simple syrup—you can purchase it from the store or make your own with sugar and water.
  • Granulated sugar—also known as white sugar, this is the coating for the cranberries. There is no substitute.

Variations on this cranberry recipe:

  • Use a flavored simple syrup, like Honey Simple Syrup, to add some different flavor to the cranberries!
  • Throw a vanilla bean into the simple syrup for vanilla flavor!
Cranberries, coated in simple syrup, sit on a cooling rack over a sheet pan

How To Make Sugared Cranberries

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and place a wire cooling rack on top. (This step is important. Trust the process, friend.) Set these aside for later.

Add the simple syrup to a large bowl, and toss the cranberries in it. 

When all the cranberries have been coated, remove them from the simple syrup with a slotted spoon, and place on the prepared cooling rack.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until the berries are sticky. (The simple syrup firms up in the refrigerator, which is why we do this step.)

Once the berries are sticky, measure the sugar into another large bowl, and roll the cranberries in the sugar until coated.

Transfer ’em back to the rack.

Refrigerate the cranberries for an additional hour before using, then enjoy!

A note on storing sugared cranberries:

Once the cranberries are no longer sticky and the sugar has completely adhered to them, you can transfer them from the wire rack to an airtight storage container. Gently.

Keep them in the fridge for 3-4 days max.

They are fragile, so handle them with care when removing. I like to use a spoon to scoop the cranberries out of the container.

Sugared cranberries sit on a cooling rack, after chilling in the fridge

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use frozen cranberries to make these sugared cranberries?

Yes! Let them thaw a bit before following the instructions below. While they might not hold their shape as well as the fresh ones, they are definitely still a gorgeous garnish… and I’ve used frozen ones in a pinch, too.

How do I make simple syrup? Can I purchase it in the store?

Simple syrup is incredibly simple to make, but you can purchase it in stores if you don’t have time to make it at home. (This Stirrings simple syrup is my favorite, if you need a recommendation.)

If you want to make it at home, I wrote a whole post about How to Make Simple Syrup!

How long do sugared cranberries last?

These will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days in an airtight container.

sugared cranberries pinterest pin

Quick tips and tricks for the best sugared cranberries

  • Make the sugared cranberries 1-3 days in advance. After they’ve been refrigerated for the second time, they’re significantly less sticky and can be stored in a food storage container in the fridge for a few days.
  • Purchase your ingredients in advance. There’s nothing more stressful than hosting friends or a party and realizing at the last minute that you’re missing an important ingredient.
  • Skewer the cranberries. Get pretty toothpicks or cocktail skewers, and put them together before guests arrive for happy hour. Display ’em on a plate, and let guests add them as garnish for their cocktails as they want.

More recipes to pair with these:

Sugared cranberries sit on a cooling rack, after chilling in the fridge
Yield: 1 ½ cups sugared cranberries

Sugared Cranberries

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Chilling Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours

If you love a homemade cocktail, Sugared Cranberries are the perfect garnish! No matter the drink you're mixing, these homemade sugared cranberries add extra sparkle to any happy hour.

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. fresh cranberries
  • ½ cup simple syrup
  • ½ cup granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place a wire cooling rack on top of the lined baking sheet, and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, measure in the simple syrup.
  3. Toss the cranberries in the simple syrup, removing them with a slotted spoon, then place on the wire cooling rack.
  4. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until the berries are sticky.
  5. When the berries are sticky, measure the sugar into a large bowl.
  6. Toss the cranberries in the sugar until coated, then transfer back to the wire cooling rack.
  7. Coat all the cranberries, then refrigerate for an additional hour before using.

Notes

Can I Use Frozen Cranberries To Make these Sugared Cranberries?

Yes! Let them thaw a bit before following the instructions below. I used them in the recipe video, and no one could tell they were made from frozen cranberries.

How Do I Make Simple Syrup? Can I Purchase It In Stores?

Simple syrup is easy to make, but you can purchase it in stores if you don’t have time to make it.

If you want to make it at home, combine a cup of water and a cup of granulated sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar completely dissolves in the water. Remove from the heat, and let cool, then store in a mason jar in the refrigerator for up for a few weeks. 

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8 servings

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 104Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 2gSugar: 24gProtein: 0g

Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.

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9 Comments

  1. These are so tasty I don’t want to add them to cocktails or salads. I just want to curl up on the couch with a bowl full and watch my movies!

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