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 throughout the holiday season. 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.

Why I love this recipe:

Whether you are looking for a beautiful garnish for holiday cocktails or an easy way to decorate a sweet treat, these Easy Sugared Cranberries can be used in so many different ways. This easy recipe adds a festive touch to whatever you serve the cranberries with.

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    They are one of my favorite ways to add color and sparkle to any dish on the holiday table, sweet or savory. You can even add these to cheese boards or a charcuterie board for a little bit of a sweet-tart bite.

    Tart cranberries with a sweet sugar coating are just utterly delicious and so colorful, to boot. 

    These cranberry jewels can be made in advance and paired with so many of your favorite things throughout the holiday season.

    Drinks and other holiday desserts 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 are the simple ingredients you need to make this recipe:

    • Cranberries — fresh cranberries or thawed frozen cranberries at room temperature are best for this recipe. Do not use dried sweetened cranberries.
    • Simple syrup — also known as sugar syrup, you can purchase it from the store or make your own with sugar and water. (Learn more about this with my how to make simple syrup post.)
    • Granulated sugar — also known as white sugar, this is the coating for the cranberries. You could also use a coarse sugar, like cane sugar.

    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!
    • Add orange zest to the sugar to add some citrus zing to the tart berries.
    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 in a single layer.

    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!

    How to store sugared cranberries:

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

    Store in the fridge for 3-4 days max.

    These sparkling cranberries 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.

    Sugar coated cranberries on a wire rack with the text sugared cranberries

    Quick tips and tricks for the best sugared cranberries

    • Make the simple 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 holiday recipes to pair with these:

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

    Sugared Cranberries

    Erin Parker, The Speckled Palate
    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.
    5 from 51 votes
    Servings 8 servings
    Calories 104 kcal
    Prep Time 10 minutes
    Cook Time 5 minutes
    Chilling Time 1 hour 45 minutes
    Total Time 2 hours


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

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


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



    This recipe makes 1 ½ cups sugared cranberries. Serving size will be dependent on how many you serve.
    Can I use frozen cranberries? Yes! Let them thaw before following the instructions below. I used them in the recipe video.
    How do I make simple syrup? Can I purchase it instead? Simple syrup is easy to make, but you can purchase it in stores if you don’t have time to make it. You can learn exactly how to make it here.


    Serving: 1gCalories: 104kcalCarbohydrates: 27gSodium: 1mgFiber: 2gSugar: 24g
    Keyword cocktail garnish, cranberry cocktail garnish, easy sugared cranberries, sugar coated cranberries, sugared cranberries, sugared cranberry recipe
    Course Drinks & Cocktails
    Cuisine American
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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    About the Author:

    Erin Parker is a Southern gal living in Texas with her husband and two daughters. She started The Speckled Palate to share what she was cooking as a newlywed… and over the years, it’s evolved to capture her love for hosting. Specifically, the EASIEST, lowest key entertaining because everyone deserves to see their people and connect over good food. Learn more about her

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    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!

    2. I used maple syrup instead of a simple syrup and sanding sugar for extra sparkle. Holy bananas, I didn’t know what to expect but I wish I’d made 10 times as many. What a surprisingly fantastic treat. I haven’t stopped thinking about them so I’m hoping frozen cranberries will work now that the fresh have disappeared. I hope so!

      1. So happy to hear this swap worked out for you, Lindsey! I bet these are totally scrumptious with the maple, too. And this *should* work with frozen ones, too, so hopefully, you can enjoy those for months to come! Cheers!

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