I’ve got a quick little how-to post for you today, to show you how fast and easy it is to make those pretty little sugared cranberries you see all over the place this time of year.  I never knew quite how they were made but they looked so lovely, I figured it had to be something complicated.  Turns out it’s easy…like, embarrassingly easy.  Maybe I’m the last to know about this little strategy but just in case I’m not, I thought I’d share it with you.  (Also, side note before I forget.  Today’s holiday giveaway is for some fun food-themed reuseable totes.  Head on over to the giveaway page to learn more and enter!)
First, combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan.  I use ½ cup of each.  Heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is fully dissolved.  That’s a simple syrup!  Remove the pan from the heat and let cool briefly.

Add cranberries to the syrup and stir gently to coat the berries fully.  I use 2 cups and do this in two batches, 1 cup at a time.

Use a strainer or slotted spoon to remove the berries from the pan and drain the excess syrup.

Transfer the berries to a rack over a baking sheet lined with foil.  If some of the smaller berries fall through, it’s really not a big deal.  They’ll still be fine when you coat them.  Let the berries sit to dry for about 1 hour.  This essentially makes them sticky so that the sugar will coat them well.

Then working with a handful at a time, place them in a shallow dish of sugar (I use regular granulated sugar) and roll them around gently until they are fully coated.  Transfer them back to the cooling rack and repeat with the remaining berries.  I cannot get over how pretty they look once they are coated.  I’ve always had a penchant for sparkly things and apparently that even applies to cranberries.

Once they are done, the only challenge is keeping little fingers from sneaking them away.  Who am I kidding though?  I do the very same thing.  The sweet-tart flavor play is kind of addictive, and makes you want to have just one more.  Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.  These lovely little gems can be used in so many ways – to garnish desserts, dress up savory bites, or to simply be enjoyed on their own.  I’d love to hear what you do with them!


  • Patti T.

    I always thought I would not like the taste of a cranberry (outside of homemade relish) but now that I read about it being a combination of sweet and tart I think I would love these. I usually have a cheese tray on Christmas eve and these would be so pretty scattered around. Thanks for helping me with great ideas.

  • annieseats

    I used to think the same, and wasn’t sure if I would like these. Even in some baked goods like muffins cranberries can occasionally be too tart, but I really love these. They are addictive!

  • Lauren Ochoa

    Great minds think alike! The only reason I had fresh cranberries on hand is because I bought a big bag of them to make your cranberry eggnog muffins a few weeks ago.

  • erin mansfield

    These are beautiful! I can’t believe how easy it is. Yet another of your recipes that will surely make its way to our Christmas dinner this year. So, when is your cookbook coming out? ;)

  • Caroline L.

    Wow, can’t believe how easy it is to make them! They’re so pretty and darling!

  • Tobie

    what can you use in place of a squared off drying rack

  • Ann P.

    So beautiful! They look like Christmas ornaments! If they weren’t perishable, I’d really want to string them and make a garland :) They’d be really pretty in a candy dish at a Christmas party!

  • Jennifer Drummond

    I have a bag of cranberries and I need to try your recipe! I can’t wait to try it this weekend!!

  • These are so gorgeous! They look like they can make any dessert extra special and provide the finishing touch. I’m thinking that they can probably be used for more than just cupcakes etc. The photo you took of them in a dish with the sugar is beautiful in and of itself and I almost think that they could be part of a centerpiece for the table. Maybe if you put a pillar candle in the middle of the sugar with the cranberries surrounding it? Just a thought and thanks for sharing!

  • Andrea

    How fun and festive! I just made these and I’m excited to pair them with Brie on crackers for tomorrow night’s get together! Thank you Annie for a fantastic year of food! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  • Amanda M

    I recently made these and added vanilla and orange extracts to the simple syrup. I also had always thought they would be difficult, but not at all!

  • I had a bag of cranberries I wanted to use up, so I made these this week for a holiday cheese and wine gathering. The sugared cranberries were a huge hit and they seemed to be the most popular thing on the table. They also totally jazzed up the plate full of crackers, and I put them around a bundt cake I made for a little extra pizazz. Thanks for making my little soiree a culinary success!

  • gretchen

    This is an amazing Idea. Something great for a large group. I’m trying them first for my family then for an art opening I’m catering. YEAH!

  • I just made these this afternoon and they are so wonderful! Thanks for the recipe!

  • Hi Annie I made these and they were a huge hit but they didn’t look the same because after I put them in the fridge the sugar absorbed the moisture and coloured the sugar red. Did you find this to be a problem? Happy new year!!

  • annieseats

    I have not had that problem myself, and I’ve made them a few times. It sounds like you may need to dry them a bit longer before coating them so there is less moisture to begin with. That’s my best suggestion. Good luck!

  • nmm

    I followed Annie’s directions, and they turned out beautifully! I used them with the brie bites. I absolutely love Annie’s “how-to” articles! Thank you, Annie!

  • These look amazing (and gorgeous) and I’ve been dying to have an occasion to serve them! Question: do you think this would work OK with blueberries? I’m thinking they might turn to mush while in the warm simple syrup…

  • annieseats

    I think you’re correct, this wouldn’t work well with blueberries. Not to mention, blueberries are naturally much sweeter than cranberries so I think that combined with the sugar coating would be too sweet.

  • Cara

    Making these today for a wine and app night tmw at my house (making the sparkling cranberry brie bites)! Naturally, all my recipe inspiration came from here :)

  • Danita Day

    I’m making these for the 2nd time this season for a crafting holiday party with my girlfriends tomorrow. They were very popular at Thanksgiving for a appetizer and the extra sugar coated berries stayed nice for over a couple of weeks. Thanks Annie