Sugared cranberries are one of those things that instantly elevates your entertaining game. They look so impressive and professional chef-esque, but they're super easy to make. I'm going to show you how!
Sugared cranberries, also known as frosted cranberries, sparkling cranberries, or candied cranberries, make great garnishes during the holiday season. My favorite way to use them is definitely as a cocktail garnish, but they look (and taste) amazing on charcuterie boards, on desserts (especially pies!) or they make a great hosting gift.
Sugared cranberries are perfect to elevate the look (and taste) of almost any holiday cocktail, dessert, charcuterie board, or anything else you can think of.
By the way, you can use this same technique for sprigs of rosemary, they pair perfectly as an extra garnish with the cranberries.
What are Sugared Cranberries?
Sugared cranberries are made with fresh cranberries, and are coated with granulated sugar on the outside. This gives them a very "frosty" or glittery look - perfect for holiday entertaining.
Why You're Going to Love this Recipe
- It's easy. I won't lie, you do have to plan ahead, but if you've left yourself 2 hours for the cranberries to dry, that's the hardest part (by far).
- They're so festive! And cute!
- You can use them in so many different ways. Want to punch up a charcuterie board? They are perfect. Top a salad? Yup. Dessert? Of course. Cocktail garnish? Absolutely.
- Honestly they make you feel bougie af with very little effort, which is my favorite.
The ingredient list is pretty simple. Ready?
- Fresh cranberries
- Granulated sugar (super fine or castor sugar works best in this recipe, but the normal stuff is also fine!)
- Sugar again (we're essentially making a simple syrup as the glue to the hold the sugar on the outside of the cranberries.
How to Make Sugared Cranberries
Making these little guys is pretty easy, but it does take a bit of pre-planning, to make sure the cranberries are perfectly sticky when you roll them. Let's go through it step by step.
Step 1: Make your Simple Syrup
We're going to combine our water and granulated sugar in a small pot over medium-high heat. All we need is the sugar to dissolve here, so this won't take long. Probably less than five minutes.
Step 2: Coat the Cranberries
Add your cranberries to the pot. Give them a gentle stir. When they're completely coated, remove them to a cooling rack over a large baking sheet.
Step 3: Dry Them
The cranberries have to dry like this FOR AT LEAST 1 HOUR (no less, do not try it. They'll be way to wet and the sugar coating will just dissolve). In fact, you can even leave them to dry over night, they'll still be sticky in the morning!
Step 4: Roll in Sugar
Once your cranberries are dry, roll them in sugar. I like to do this using a large baking sheet, coating the bottom with superfine sugar, and gently shaking it back and forth until they're coated (see video for reference).
You can also do them in batches in a small bowl. Just make sure you do it gently, so the sugar sticks and doesn't get knocked off.
Step 5: Dry Again
Let them sit out for at least an hour now they've been coated in sugar.
Step 6: Serve and Enjoy!
These wintery, festive treats are really versatile, which is why I love having them on hand from basically October 15th onward. Here are some serving ideas (I would love to hear more if you have them, lmk in the comments!).
- Cocktails: these are STUNNING as a cocktail garnish. Try it with any cranberry based cocktail or mocktail (like my cranberry Moscow Mule or margarita), but they are also great with anything pumpkin or maple syrup based.
- Charcuterie Boards: sprinkle these as the finishing touch on your fall/winter charcuterie boards. They look so elegant, and of course, they're very fun to eat. It's the perfect wintery treat to add.
- Desserts: especially pies, tartes, or even as garnish on crème brulee!
- Anywhere brie cheese can be found: cranberries and brie cheese are bff's, in my opinion. Add them as a garnish to your next baked brie appetizer, especially if rosemary is in there as a flavor.
How to Store Them
One of the biggest parts about storing sugared cranberries is making sure they are completely dry once the sugar goes on. You want to let them set for AT LEAST an hour in the open air before you put them away.
I've had the best luck storing these in a large container, where they're not all stacked on top of each other, and have some breathing room.
Others say you can store them in any container you'd like (this hasn't worked as well for me, there seems to be too much moisture and not enough dry air, and the sugar melts off).
Other Festive Recipes to Try
- 1 Cooling rack
- ½ C water
- ½ C granulated sugar
- 1½ C cranberries fresh
- 1½ C superfine sugar
- Bring the water and granulated sugar to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
- As soon as the sugar dissolves, turn off the heat, and add your cranberries. Stir until they're well coated (see notes).
- Strain, and spread the cranberries on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet. Let them dry for at least an hour, up to 12 hours.
- Spread the superfine sugar on a large baking sheet in a thin layer. Place the cranberries on top of the sugar and gently shake the tray back and forth, until the berries are completely covered.
- Let the cranberries dry for at least an hour. Store in a large airtight container.