Sugared cranberries are an easy yet beautiful garnish for so many festive delights, from pumpkin pie to gingerbread waffles. They’re also very tasty as a sweet-tart snack all on their own! You need just 3 ingredients to make these sparkly treats.
Let’s make some sugared cranberries! This is a wonderful treat to make around the holidays, when fresh cranberries are available, and these sparkly red jewels are an easy way to dress up a dessert with festive flair. I always make them to go on pumpkin pie because they add a vibrant pop of color to the very brown-and-orange pie.
Their sweet-tart, juicy flavor is so irresistible, you’ll want to snack on them all on their own. You could also drop some in a glass of sparkling wine for a little glitz!
You Need Just 3 Ingredients
Cranberries (use fresh, not frozen), water, & sugar.
You’ll also need a saucepan, some parchment paper, and a slotted spoon.
How to Make Sugared Cranberries
I learned how to make these years ago; when I was growing up, we’d always have a bowl of them out around the holidays with other snacky appetizers. I do the same thing now, and my older daughter LOVES them.
The process is simple, but takes a little (mostly hands-off) time while you wait for them to dry.
Here’s an overview of the steps:
Make a simple syrup. Simple syrup is just equal parts sugar and water, heated on the stove until the sugar has completely dissolved.
Pour the syrup over the cranberries and let them soak for 15 minutes.
Drain the cranberries and let dry on parchment: Using a slotted spoon, remove the cranberries from the syrup and spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let them dry for about 1 hour. They’ll be very sticky, not dry, at this point.
Toss the sticky cranberries in a bowl of sugar, so they’re fully coated.
Let dry: Spread the sugared cranberries out on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and allow them to dry uncovered for at least 1 hour. You can keep them at room temperature, or place them in the refrigerator.
You can also use this same process for sugaring sprigs of rosemary, which look like frosted pine needles. I love using both sugared cranberries and rosemary for garnish on a yule log cake. They’d be gorgeous around a cinnamon roll wreath, too.
A Few Success Tips I’ve Learned
- Use fresh cranberries, not frozen. While frozen cranberries work great for cranberry sauce, they’re not good for this recipe. The sugar syrup doesn’t coat evenly on frozen berries, leaving you with rather ugly and some very plain shriveled cranberries.
- You can save the simple syrup after you’ve removed the cranberries, and use it for cocktails or mocktails.
- Store them lightly covered at room temperature or in the refrigerator for a few days. If they start to look a little wet, toss them in a little more sugar.
Try Garnishing These Recipes With Sugared Cranberries
- Bûche de Noël (Yule Log)
- Gingerbread Cake
- Cranberry Pecan Cake
- Pumpkin Pie or Apple Pie
- Cinnamon Roll Wreath
- Pumpkin French Toast Casserole
- Gingerbread Waffles
- Cranberry Frangipane Tart
- 1 cup (100g) fresh cranberries (do not use frozen)
- 3/4 cup (180ml) water
- 1 and 1/4 cups (250g) granulated sugar, divided
- Place cranberries in a large heatproof bowl. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, bring the water and 3/4 cup (150g) of sugar to a simmer, whisking until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
- Pour the sugar syrup over the cranberries and stir. Cover the bowl and set aside for 15 minutes.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cranberries from the sugar syrup and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Allow to dry, uncovered, for 1 hour. The cranberries will be quite sticky at this point.
- Pour remaining 1/2 cup (100g) sugar into a large bowl. Toss the cranberries in the sugar, coating them all the way around. Place the sugared cranberries on a parchment paper- or silicone baking mat-lined baking sheet and let them dry uncovered for at least 1 hour at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
- Store them lightly covered at room temperature or in the refrigerator for a few days. If they start to look a little wet, toss them in a little more sugar. Do not freeze the sugared cranberries because, as they thaw, the sugar absorbs into the liquid.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Glass Mixing Bowls | Saucepan | Whisk | Baking Sheet | Parchment Paper Sheets or Silicone Baking Mat | Slotted Spoon or Sieve
- Frozen Cranberries: Do not use frozen or thawed cranberries. They’re simply too wet, and the simple syrup and sugar just won’t stick. You can trying patting them as dry as possible, but the results won’t be the same.
- Rosemary: You can use the same exact “recipe” or method with fresh rosemary sprigs to make sparkly “pine needles” as a garnish for various baked goods or festive drinks. Or, just toss a few sprigs in with the cranberries to make both—no need to increase the amount of simple syrup or sugar.
Keywords: sugared cranberries