There might not be anything more beautiful than the sparkle of sugar-coated cranberries (or as some refer to them, just sugared cranberries).

They are a festive addition to holiday tables, whether as a garnish for cocktails, decoration for a wintery cake, or on a cheeseboard, there’s no end to the ways to use these delicious berries.

Bowl of candied cranberries with spoon next to it.

They require very little hands-on cooking time which means overall, I like to call this a quick recipe. You let time do all the work. It’s so easy to do that anyone can tackle this recipe, and it’s a super fun one to make with kids (just watch out for those sticky hands!).

How to Make Sugared Cranberries

When I say easy, I mean easy. This recipe is one that takes you very little time and effort, yet yields incredibly impressive results. These candied cranberries will wow your friends and family. How easy they are can be our little secret.

You’ll need just three simple ingredients: water, granulated sugar, and fresh cranberries.

Start by making simple syrup. If you haven’t made simple syrup before, you simply boil sugar and water together until the sugar is dissolved. I recommend whisking the mixture as it simmers to ensure the sugar does dissolve evenly. Then, remove it from the heat to continue with the recipe.

Cranberries in saucepan.

Once the syrup is ready, add in the cranberries. I like to add the cranberries in batches to make sure that each one gets coated in the syrup. Either way, even if you add them all at once, be sure to stir them for a minute or so to make sure the syrup coats each and every one. The sticky syrup is what the sugar coating will stick to, so this is essential!

Do not cook the cranberries in the simple syrup. Simply stir to coat the cranberries and remove them from the syrup.

Next, use a slotted spoon or strainer to strain the cranberries out of the syrup. As I said, we want the cranberries to be coated with the syrup, but we don’t want them dripping with syrup. That will mean lumpy sugar-coated cranberries, and we don’t have time for that!

As the excess syrup from each spoonful is done dripping, transfer the syrup-coated cranberries to a cooling rack that is placed onto a baking sheet. This set-up means easier clean-up for you, just in case any additional syrup drips off.

Cranberries on cooling rack.

Allow the cranberries to dry for 30 minutes to an hour. They will remain sticky after they’ve dried, which is exactly what we want. The drying time ensures they’re not too syrupy which again would result in sugar clumps, not beautifully coated cranberries.

side by side cranberries in sugar

Once they have dried, it’s time to coat them in sugar. Place the syrup cranberries in a bowl or rimmed plate of sugar. Roll them around until they are completely coated. You can place them on a new cooling rack if you’d like, place them directly in a bowl or serving dish, or use them as a garnish right away.

Cranberries coated in sugar.

How to Store Candied Cranberries

Store any leftover sugar cranberries in an airtight container in a cool dry place for 2-3 days. Eventually, the cranberries may look wet and a little sad. That’s because the sugar likes to draw in any moisture it can. Just reroll the cranberries in more sugar to get them like-new.

The fresher the cranberries are when you make this recipe, the longer they will last when stored properly.

How do I use Sugar Coated Cranberries?

One of my favorite ways to use sugared cranberries is for drinks! A garnish, that is. They are beautiful when served with festive holiday cocktails like a Cranberry Prosecco or Cranberry Ginger Cocktail (but it doesn’t stop there!). Just be sure to skewer them on a cocktail pick and place it over the rim of the glass. If the cranberries come in contact with the beverage, the sugar will melt (as you can see in some of my cocktail photos ;)).

If you’re feeling really festive, you can even place one or two cranberries on the bottom of a rosemary sprig instead of a cocktail pick!

It isn’t just about the drink garnish, though. These are beautiful on cakes, cupcakes, and even as a garnish for cheesecake. I’ve used rosemary sprigs and sugared cranberries to decorate my vanilla bean cake around the holidays for a festive winter dessert. So gorgeous!

Add them to a cheeseboard, too! They’re a beautiful addition and their color contrasts wonderfully next to green olives and whipped ricotta.

Can I eat these cranberries?

Absolutely! You can eat these deliciously sweet fresh cranberries as they are for a snack or enjoy them alongside whatever they are garnishing!

What do candied cranberries taste like?

They are sweet, a little tart, and absolutely delicious! They burst in your mouth with flavor. While raw cranberries can have quite a bit of tartness to them, the sugar balances it out for a sweet treat.

Sugar coated cranberries in bowl on pink plate.

Recipe Tips

  • Plan Ahead! While this recipe is really easy, you do need to plan ahead to make sure the cranberries have enough time to dry after soaking in the syrup.
  • Save the syrup! Store the leftover simple syrup in an airtight container in the fridge and use it in cocktails, or infuse it wiht rosemary or ginger for a flavorful simple syrup.
  • Don’t throw them out! If you’re about to throw them out, don’t! Turn them into cranberry sauce or make mini cranberry cheesecakes with them.
Sugar coated cranberries in bowl.
5 (4 ratings)

Get the Recipe Sugar Coated Cranberries

These super easy-to-make Sugar Coated Cranberries are a beautiful garnish for cocktails, cupcakes, or cheeseboards. They're also delicious to snack on! Make them around the holidays for a festive, impressive addition to your celebration.


  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries


  • Bring water and 1/4 cup of the sugar to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat.
  • Add the cranberries to the syrup and stir until each one is completely coated. Remove them in batches with a slotted spoon or mesh sieve, ensuring any excess syrup drains off.
  • Transfer to a cooling rack on a baking sheet (the baking sheet is for easy clean up), spreading them in a single layer. Let dry for 30 minutes to an hour. They will remain sticky after the dry time.
  • Place the remaining sugar in a bowl or on a rimmed plate. In multiple batches, roll cranberries in the sugar until coated. Use another slotted spoon to scoop them out, allowing excess sugar to fall away, and place them in a serving bowl or garnish as desired.


  • Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for 2-3 days. If they become a little ‘wet’ looking, simply roll them in more sugar to revive them.
  • Syrup: save any remaining simple syrup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Use it in cocktails, drinks, and more!
Serving: 1cup, Calories: 627kcal, Carbohydrates: 162g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 6mg, Potassium: 88mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 154g, Vitamin A: 60IU, Vitamin C: 13mg, Calcium: 11mg, Iron: 1mg
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