How To Make Sugared Cranberries

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Sugared cranberries are a beautiful garnish to just about any holiday dessert. Because cranberries are one of few fruits in season during the winter months, I like to capitalize on using them as a garnish. Wow your guests with these beautiful wintery treats!  

sugared cranberries

What Are Sugared Cranberries? 

A little sweet, a bit tart, and deliciously crunchy, sugared cranberries are slightly cooked and rolled in sugar. Also called candied cranberries or sparkling cranberries. They will add a beautiful pop of color and taste to your cheese boards, dessert spreads, and holiday decor.

The basic recipe calls for making a simple syrup then allowing the cranberries to soak in the liquid. Some people do this soaking overnight, but you can just stir them in the liquid for a few minutes. Because they soak while it’s hot they will cook just slightly, softening them and lessening the tartness they have when eaten raw.

Then they are rolled in sugar which sticks to the syrup coat creating the most delightful looking snack.

Jump to Recipe

 

How to Serve Sugared Cranberries

I add mine to any cheese or dessert board during November and December. They’d make a great CharcuterTREE topper, or add them to any Fall themed board.  I used them in my Cheesegiving Meal Board.

I usually serve them in a bowl or ramekin so that the sugar doesn’t get on any other items nearby. But if you’re adding them to a dessert board, a little extra sugar never hurt anyone! 

Remember that these are still cranberries, they are tart and are often the only acidic item in a Thanksgiving spread. Serve them sparingly and with very rich flavors like brie cheese, creamy frosting, cheesecake, or sweeter fruits like oranges, persimmons, and pears. 

These cranberries also make cute decor! String them together (think like a popcorn strand) and add them to any holiday garland, wreath, or table top display. Just don’t leave them for too long, since they may start to get mushy or rotten. 

how to make sugared cranberries

A Breakdown of Different Types of Sugar

Different sugars have slightly different tastes, textures, and uses. Using the wrong sugar in this recipe will probably result in not-so-sparkly cranberries. Fail! 

  • Standard granulated sugar. Also known as regular sugar. This is the best kind of sugar to coat your cranberries in. You can find (or make) vanilla sugar, which is granulated sugar with added vanilla flavor. Pro tip: vanilla sugar will add a nice depth of flavor to this garnish. 
  • Superfine sugar. Also called caster sugar. This has smaller granules than regular sugar and is not good for sugared cranberries. It is intended to dissolve, so it won’t show up on your cranberries at all. 
  • Coarse sugar. Larger than granulated sugar, it might not be best for sugared cranberries but could be a secondary option in a pinch. While coase sugar is too big to be used alone here (it won’t adequately coat your berries) you could roll your berries in granulated sugar then give them a dip in coarse sugar for a secondary texture. Think of using it in the same way you would coarse salt—like a small sprinkle on soft pretzels. 
  • Decorating sugar. Also called sanding sugar. This is a great secondary addition to your sparkling cranberries. It’s similar to coarse sugar and should be used only sparingly for the cranberries (see note above). It’s often used for cookie decorating. It’s likely more shiny and clear than plain coarse sugar. King Arthur even has a sparkling sugar
  • Confectioners sugar. Also called powdered sugar. This is not the type of sugar you want in this recipe. It will dissolve into the syrup and get goopy. Reserve this sugar for icing on your gingerbread house! 
  • Brown sugar. Delicious though it may be, it is not for this project. Brown sugar is less refined than granulated sugar and is brown because it still retains some, or a lot of molasses. You probably don’t want dirty looking cranberries. 
  • Turbinado, Muscovado, and Demerara sugars. These are all various versions of unrefined or semi-refined sugars. They are all brown in color and while delicious, not great for this recipe. 
sugared cranberries recipe

Tips to Get Really Sparkly Cranberries

It’s best to make sugared cranberries in advance. I often soak mine in the syrup mixture the evening before I’m going to serve them and then roll them in sugar the day-of. Though you certainly don’t have to make it that far in advance… you can soak them in the hot syrup for only a few minutes. However, the minimum for drying on a wire rack is an hour before rolling them in the sugar.

Make more than you’ll need. These are so pretty they’ll look great as decor and you can bag up any that don’t make it to the serving tray and send them home as gifts! Plus they are quite tart still so a few are enough for a serving. 

As mentioned above, if you want to do a bit more research on the most sparkling sugars, they are definitely out there. Using a mix of granulated sugar and really clear coarse sugar might look cool. Test out what works best for you!

sugared cranberries on a cheese plate

Show Me Your Sparkling Cranberries

Hope this recipe inspires you to make some festive spreads. Nothing makes me happier than seeing you create beautiful boards from my tips. If you make a spread inspired by this post, please tag me at @ainttoooproudtomeg so I can see and share! 

And, If you liked this board recipe, please rate, review and tell me what you paired your sparkling cranberries with!

Sugared Cranberries

4.95 from 59 votes

Description

These beautiful sugared cranberries are the perfect wintery, festive food garnish to wow your guests.

Equipment

medium saucepan
wire rack
medium bowl

Ingredients
  

  • 1 (12 oz.) Bag of fresh cranberries
  • 2 cups Sugar, divided

Instructions

  • Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved (around 2-3 minutes).
  • Stir in cranberries until well coated.
  • Use a slotted spoon to transfer cranberries to a wire rack and let dry for at least 1 hour.
  • Working in batches, roll cranberries in remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar until well coated; let dry for at least 1 hour.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Recipe Rating




79 Comments

  1. Elva wrote:

    If I soak overnight do I put them in the refrigerator? Sorry if this is obvious!

    Posted 11.25.20 Reply
  2. Valerie wrote:

    5 stars
    This is the only way I’m eating cranberries from now on! So many great tips and tricks for cheese boards across all seasons.

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  3. Jenn wrote:

    4 stars
    I can’t wait to make these and add to our Christmas board. Such a fun twist on a classic.

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  4. Tricia wrote:

    5 stars
    These are so easy to make! I agree with her tip to let the cranberries sit a bit longer in the simple syrup as it cuts down on the tartness. I’m going to be making mini boards for each person in my office as it will be covid-safe and these are a nice addition.

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  5. Nina wrote:

    5 stars
    I can’t wait to make these! These would look absolutely beautiful on the table on Christmas Day! So so beautiful for guests to pick before the meal!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  6. Jaime wrote:

    5 stars
    Made these for my charcuterie boards and LOVE them

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  7. Sonia wrote:

    5 stars
    I used this recipe and it was a hit for my guest!!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  8. Helen wrote:

    5 stars
    Loved making these! People really enjoy them! I used Organic Cane Sugar (Whole Foods 365 Brand) and it worked perfectly!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  9. 5 stars
    These look delicious!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  10. Nicki wrote:

    5 stars
    This is my favorite new holiday treat.

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  11. Kari wrote:

    Are these tart and sweet? What is the texture?

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
    • Meg Quinn (Ain't Too Proud To Meg) wrote:

      Yes. Tart and sweet. I normally don’t like cranberries but they are addicting. They are softer once cooked but still hard on the outside enough to pop in your mouth. The sugar on the outside gives a great texture.

      Posted 12.5.20 Reply
  12. Robyn wrote:

    Love these! Made them this morning for ones of my boards. They are gorgeous and so good! 🙂

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  13. Missy wrote:

    5 stars
    So beautiful!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  14. Tracy wrote:

    This is a recipe I have always wanted to try! It’s so easy!!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  15. Hannah wrote:

    5 stars
    I made these and I’m pretty sure my baby (18 months) ate 30% of them before I even got them rolled into the sugar! He also ate another 20% after i rolled them in sugar ????

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  16. Susanne Biancardi wrote:

    5 stars
    I made these a few days ago to use on my boards, and they were so good everyone in the house started snacking on them – I had to make a second batch! Thanks for the recipe

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  17. Keyara wrote:

    5 stars
    Great idea!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  18. Abbe wrote:

    Made these for thanksgiving and added them to a “Manhattan” version I made. Delish.

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  19. 4 stars
    We love all your great tips!!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  20. Shannon wrote:

    5 stars
    These are perfect for holiday boards! Simple, unexpected, & delicious.

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  21. Audrey wrote:

    5 stars
    NEED to make this for the holidays! Looks so yummy and beautiful!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  22. Lauren Emiliani wrote:

    5 stars
    I’m really excited about this sugared cranberry recipe! My grandmother used to make these every year for Christmas! She sadly passed away a few months ago and I never asked her how to make these. I’m so excited to try making them using your recipe. I never thought about using them on a cheese board so that’s definitely something we will have to try this year. Thanks for sharing! Your cheese boards are awesome!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  23. 5 stars
    I made these to decorate gingerbread houses and needing up giving away four jars for thanksgiving bc they were SO YUMMY!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  24. Jaime westby wrote:

    5 stars
    I love these sugar coated cranberries!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  25. Brittany Mayes wrote:

    5 stars
    Every time I made cranberry sauce I always took a nibble of the cranberry and thought who the heck eats these raw!! I saw this recipe and tried it. Wow! Game changer! Thanks for the share!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  26. Courtney wrote:

    5 stars
    Yum! Can’t wait to try making these on a holiday board! )

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  27. Ashley wrote:

    5 stars
    These look too pretty to eat! I love how thorough the directions are, down to the types of sugar!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  28. Kiley wrote:

    5 stars
    Love these! Soaked them overnight. Like a healthier sour patch kid.

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  29. Courtney Eppler wrote:

    5 stars
    I love cranberries so I really look forward to trying this!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  30. Stacey Marie wrote:

    5 stars
    Such a great idea and addition to any cheeseboard. Will be trying these out for Christmas morning brunch. Thanks Meg!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  31. Gabriela Müller wrote:

    5 stars
    Such a simple yet great recipe! It really makes the board sparkle, I love it!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  32. Shannon F wrote:

    5 stars
    These are so cute for a Christmas board!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  33. Monica wrote:

    5 stars
    Lovely ????

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  34. Randi wrote:

    These are fantastic!! Using them this weekend. Love ur parts and blog ☮️????????

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  35. Priti L. wrote:

    5 stars
    I loved this recipe to use with my leftover Thanksgiving cranberries! Will be adding them to my holiday boards for sure! Thank you!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  36. Lisa Manderano wrote:

    5 stars
    I’ve always wondered how to make these! Yay, totally making them now!!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  37. Libby H wrote:

    Pretty sure I’ve never had these before but these looks SO good!
    Definitely trying them out this weekend!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  38. Michaela Sanchez wrote:

    5 stars
    These look so delicious!!!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  39. Kate wrote:

    These are so pretty and would be the perfect addition to a charcuterie board for Christmas! I can’t wait to try them!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  40. 5 stars
    I was pleasantly surprised to like these cranberries! I’ve tried raw ones before but way too tart for me. These are so good and pretty addicting! Thanks Meg!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  41. Corey wrote:

    5 stars
    I made these for Thanksgiving and decorated my pumpkin pie with them. We couldn’t stop eating them! So delicious.

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  42. Claire wrote:

    5 stars
    I made these cranberries for thanksgiving and Christmas boards and they were so easy! I cut the recipe in half and made some delicious sweet bites. My family loved them!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  43. Noreen wrote:

    5 stars
    I’ve made these for photos but never eaten them! You’ve convinced me!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  44. Stephanie ivey wrote:

    5 stars
    Def trying!!!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  45. Lindsey wrote:

    5 stars
    Love this recipe! These are such a great way to elevate cheese wheels or throw on top of a festive dessert! I can’t wait for your book!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  46. Mary Straton Smith wrote:

    These are just gorgeous!!!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  47. Ziana D wrote:

    5⭐️s
    This look amazing!! I want to try them for my Christmas charcuterie!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  48. Nina wrote:

    Looks delish!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  49. Nina wrote:

    Looks delicious!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  50. Maribel Thiebaud wrote:

    5 stars
    Wow what a neat idea! Can’t wait to see how mine turn out!

    Posted 12.4.20 Reply
  51. Kaitlyn Lawson wrote:

    5 stars
    These are gorgeous. What a perfect addition to a holiday board!

    Posted 12.4.20 Reply
  52. 5 stars
    So delicious and you can’t stop eating them! Definitely wait at least an hour for them to dry after soaking so they get sticky. After coating with sugar, another hour makes the crust hard like candy. So good!!!

    Posted 12.17.20 Reply
  53. Michelle Stechschulte wrote:

    5 stars
    I followed your recipe and have made these a couple of times already! Thank you for sharing. They’re beautiful and delicious.

    Posted 12.21.20 Reply
    • Meg Quinn (Ain't Too Proud To Meg) wrote:

      amazing! so happy to hear that!

      Posted 12.21.20 Reply
  54. Melissa Siedle wrote:

    5 stars
    Super easy to make and these are the perfect garnishment on a holiday charcuterie board!

    Posted 12.21.20 Reply
  55. Jenna wrote:

    5 stars
    I’ve always wondered how to make these because they’re so impressive and a gorgeous garnish. Turns out, it’s easy and delicious, too!

    Posted 12.21.20 Reply
  56. Noreen wrote:

    5 stars
    YES! I have made these for photo shoots but never eaten. YOU CHANGED MY MIND! And I tried them on a pack of 4 boards for an evening Zoom cocktail hour. They held up REALLY well! Thanks for the awesome trick!

    Posted 12.21.20 Reply
    • Meg Quinn (Ain't Too Proud To Meg) wrote:

      wahoooo! I had no idea I would love them either. so glad you do too.

      Posted 12.21.20 Reply
      • Leslie wrote:

        5 stars
        These were a hit even with the kids! I made a double batch but wondering how long they keep for??

        Posted 12.27.20 Reply
        • Meg Quinn (Ain't Too Proud To Meg) wrote:

          So happy to hear that!!! Mine generally get eaten up pretty quick, so I’m not completely sure of the longevity, but I believe they should be good for 4-5 days. Keep me posted on yours 🙂

          Posted 12.27.20 Reply
  57. Jenn wrote:

    4 stars
    These were fun to make and they added a fun color and taste to our board over the weekend. I will definitely be adding these every year to the Christmas boards.

    Posted 12.21.20 Reply
  58. Kate wrote:

    5 stars
    Love the sweet and tart combo!

    Posted 12.21.20 Reply
  59. Kristen Morales wrote:

    5 stars
    I thought these were only for looks and maybe not even worth the effort until I saw YOUR recipe and how-to and you said they were actually yummy! Crunchy/tart/sweet/snackable! They’ve leveled up charcuterie boards for me! Keep doing what you do!

    Posted 12.21.20 Reply
  60. Michele wrote:

    5 stars
    Thanks for posting this recipe! I’m going to put these on fancy skewers for drinks on Christmas Eve. I think they’ll look great with Champagne or a Jingle Buck.

    Posted 12.21.20 Reply
  61. Sadaf wrote:

    I’m going to try these out for Christmas – can’t wait to report back!

    Posted 12.21.20 Reply
  62. for the LOVE of cheese wrote:

    5 stars
    These babies have been the hit of all my boards this holiday season! I have used them as accents as well as garnishes in drinks. Add so much festive flare!

    Posted 12.21.20 Reply
  63. Jennie wrote:

    5 stars
    Gorgeous! Using them as garnishes for cocktails!

    Posted 12.21.20 Reply
  64. Gabby wrote:

    5 stars
    I made the sugared cranberries right after thanksgiving . They were yummy , my first time making them . Can’t wait to make them again .

    Posted 12.21.20 Reply
  65. Pina wrote:

    5 stars
    Wow can’t wait to make these for my Christmas Eve board! Thank you!!

    Posted 12.21.20 Reply
  66. Jenna wrote:

    5 stars
    These were delicious!! The kids and adults all loved them. They tasted better the longer they sat, so I’ll make them a day early next time.

    Posted 12.21.20 Reply
  67. Debbie wrote:

    5 stars
    These are so pretty!

    Posted 12.21.20 Reply
  68. Leslie wrote:

    5 stars
    I’ve been waiting until this week (Christmas) to make these! So excited to try them

    Posted 12.21.20 Reply
    • Meg Quinn (Ain't Too Proud To Meg) wrote:

      Yay! Enjoy 🙂

      Posted 12.24.20 Reply
  69. Kristen wrote:

    5 stars