Are you a fan of cranberries? If you are, then you’ll simply love what I’m about to share with you! 

Cranberries have a naturally tart taste, which can be a bit much to handle for some people, especially kids. However, do you know what kids simply cannot resist? Sugar-coated cranberries! Yes, I’m talking about the magical, sparkling candied cranberries that you used to marvel at every holiday season at your grandma’s house. At least, that’s how I first came across this delightful candied fruit.

These candied cranberries are a magical human invention that you can have as is, add to cocktails, and even throw in on different cakes and holiday specials. In fact, I love having these pretty little (almost too pretty to eat – yes, I said almost!) sugared cranberries so much that I don’t just reserve them for special occasions. I make them wherever I have some free time on hand – mostly during the weekends. 

Perhaps, the best bit about these tiny cranberries, which are a perfect blend of sweetness and sourness and are the ideal mix between crunchy and juicy, is just how easy they are to make. Even the most amateur of cooks (read:me) can easily make these sugary delights.

So, if you are wondering how to make sugar-coated cranberries, read on to find out!

What Are Sugar-Coated Cranberries? 

As the name suggests, sugar-coated cranberries are cranberries that have been coated in sugar. This works as quite the perfect combination as the sweetness of sugar perfectly offsets the natural tartness of cranberries. The cranberry pops under the pressure of your bite and then the sweetness of the sugar kicks in. This perfectly balanced flavor of sweet and sour makes sugar-coated cranberries a delectable snack for kids and adults alike.

How to Make Sugar-Coated Cranberries?

Prep and cook time: 15 minutes

Resting time: 1 hour

Things You Will Need

  • 1 bag of fresh cranberries (12 ounces)
  • 2 cups of regular or cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • A medium-sized saucepan
  • A slotted spoon
  • A whisk
  • A platter


  1. Put the water and 1/ cup of sugar in a saucepan and place it over medium heat.
  2. Bring the mixture to a simmer and whisk the sugar until it completely dissolves into the water.
  3. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the cranberries so that they are coated completely with the syrup. Cover the pan with a lid and let the cranberries steep for about 10 minutes.
  4. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cranberries onto a piece of parchment paper placed on a wire cooling rack. You can collect the remaining syrup to use it to sweeten your cocktails. 
  5. Let the syrupy cranberries dry for about an hour.
  6. After an hour is up, take the remaining sugar and place it in a platter.  
  7. Transfer the cranberries to the platter and make sure to thoroughly roll them in the sugar. This will help you coat the cranberries with the sugar crystals.
  8. Put the sugar-coated cranberries in a lidded airtight container and place it in the fridge.  

A few helpful tips to remember:

  • I prefer using cane sugar since the granules are larger and give the cranberries the most magical sparkle.
  • Use the remaining sugar syrup in your cocktails or brush it on top of cakes.
  • Make sure that you don’t throw the cranberries in piping hot sugar syrup as this will make them crack and pop. 
  • If you are feeling adventurous, then you can try adding some vanilla bean or citrus zest to the sugar syrup or the sugar with which you’ll coat the cranberries. 

Can I Use Frozen Cranberries?

If you are wondering whether you can use frozen cranberries to make this delicious candy, then the short answer is no. Why, you ask? Well, frozen cranberries tend to release a lot of water when they thaw and don’t even taste as good as fresh cranberries. So, if you use them to make candied cranberries, you will end up with a sticky mess. Moreover, the sugar won’t cover and coat the thawing cranberries properly, which will defeat the whole point of making sugared cranberries! 

How to Store Sugar-Coated Cranberries?

Although you can store sugar-coated cranberries at room temperature, I wouldn’t recommend it. This is because the sugar will start to melt or weep after about 2 days. If you want your sugar-coated cranberries to stay firm and fresh, then you need to store them in the fridge. Throw the prepared cranberries in an airtight container and put that container in your fridge. They will easily last for a few days in the fridge. If they start to weep, just toss them in sugar to coat them again. 

Moreover, you can also freeze your sugar-coated cranberries in an airtight container or a freezer bag. However, once you take them out of your freezer, they will start to thaw and the sugar will quickly dissolve and create a sticky mess. So, once that starts happening, just run the cranberries through some sugar to coat them again. 

Pro Tip: When freezing sugared cranberries, make sure to flash freeze them on a flat baking sheet before you transfer them to an airtight container or freezer bag. This will prevent the cranberries from clumping together in the bag.

How to Use Sugar-Coated Cranberries

You can use the quick and easy to make sugared cranberries in various dishes. You can use them to garnish your pumpkin or lemon pies, gingerbread or coconut or carrot pumpkin cakes. You can even use them on cupcakes with cream cheese frosting – my absolute favorite! You can even throw them on a cheese or charcuterie board or an appetizer table. They are also a perfect addition to the holiday dinner table – they look delightfully pretty in a bowl! 

Moreover, you can just prepare them to use as candies and snacks; just pop them in your mouth whenever you crave something sweet and sour. You can also use them to top your sweet potato mash. Additionally, the leftover sugar syrup can be used as a simple syrup for your cocktail drinks.

However, perhaps, the best use of candied cranberries is in cocktails and margaritas. Garnish cocktails such as cranberry-orange gin smash, the big sister, and cranberry Moscow mule with freshly-prepared sugared cranberries. They will add some complementary flavor and color to your drinks. Moreover, you can also use them as a garnish for homemade hot chocolate!

The Bottom Line

I hope you enjoyed reading this guide on how to make sugar-coated cranberries. Follow the steps that I have detailed above and you’ll create the best batch of sugared cranberries that you can enjoy with your whole family. Also, make sure to store them in the fridge if you don’t plan on devouring them right away. This way, you can enjoy them over the next few days, either as is or with different desserts and beverages. 

About the author

Meet Go-Go-Gadget Renee'. Her passion for #kitchen gadgets is matched only by her love for tech. A real #foodie, she's all heart for red wine and delicious meals. #CookingChewTribe

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