Sugared Cranberries

Our Best Bites Sparkly Berries Intro

If you’ve never made (or eaten) sugared cranberries before, you’re in for a treat.  Literally.  These little beauties require only two ingredients and the result is absolutely stunning little morsels of sweet-tart deliciousness that burst in your mouth.  You basically roll berries in a sweet simple syrup so they become tacky on the outside and then roll them in sugar.  When they dry, the sugar granules sparkle and create a crackly little crust around the tart berries.  They’re totally addicting to snack on and they make a gorgeous garnish on holiday desserts like cupcakes, cakes, cheesecakes, mousses, you name it.  They also work great for a party snack, and appetizer, or on a cheese plate.  Make them a day or two ahead of Thanksgiving and have them ready to pull out when your guests arrive and start snacking!

You can make whatever quantity of cranberries you like, here.  I’m using a whole (12 ounce) bag of fresh cranberries, which is the normal size of bag you find in the produce section these days.  Wash them and pick through them, removing any damaged ones.

Our Best Bites Washed Cranberries

You’ll make an simple syrup on the stove top.  Simple syrup is just water and granulated sugar.  I use equal parts, and for one bag of cranberries 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar is plenty.  After the sugar is dissolved and the syrup has cooled a bit, pour it over the cranberries.

Our Best Bites Cranberries in Simple Syrup

Now, many recipes have you move on to the next step immediately, but I noticed a few that have you leave the cranberries in the syrup overnight.  I wondered if that really changed anything, since cranberries aren’t really porous and I didn’t imagine they’d actually absorb more sweetness from the syrup.  So I tried them both ways, and I can honestly say, they’re better if the cranberries sit overnight in the syrup (or at least long enough for the syrup to become chilled.)  I think the main reason is that the syrup becomes thicker, and the therefore adheres better and thicker to the berries, and in turn collects more of the granulated sugar dusting.  The finished berries that were left overnight had better flavor and a much better sugar “crust.”  However, if you’re in a time crunch, you can certainly just move right along to the next step.  They’ll be slightly more tart that way.

Use a slotted spoon to remove berries from syrup and set them on a cooling rack (make sure your rack is sitting over foil so the sugary syrup can drip off.

Our Best Bites Cranberries Drying

Once they dry for 45 minutes to an hour, they just have a thin coating of tacky syrup.

Our Best Bites Cranberries on Drying Rack

It’s just enough to attract glistening little sparkles of sugar.  I’ve made these before with just regular, granulated sugar, but I recently saw a tip from 101 Cookbooks about using 2 different sugars and I loved the results.  I first rolled my berries in a coarser-grained sugar.  Not so coarse as raw or turbinado sugar, just a larger grain.  If you have a Kroger (or Kroger family store, like Fred Meyer, Smith’s etc.)  the organic Simple Truth brand sugar is perfect.  It’s just a bit coarser than regular granulated sugar and makes these extra crunchy and sparkly.

Our Best Bites Cranberries in Coarse Sugar

Since a coarse sugar will leave some empty spots, I then rolled them in some regular granulated sugar that I had run quickly through my food processor to make it extra fine.

Our Best Bites Cranberries in Fine Sugar

The results were perfect.  Spread the berries out on a baking sheet and let them dry completely (a couple of hours is great).

Our Best Bites Sugared Cranberries Drying

The result is incredibly beautiful- little berries that literally sparkle.  The outsides are crisp and then they burst in your mouth with a crunchy little sugary exterior that balances out the tart berries.

Our Best Bites Sparkly Berries Close-up

They look absolutely gorgeous on a table.  Serve them in bowls for snacking, or use them to adorn a holiday dessert.

Our Best Bites Sparkly Cranberries

I’m in charge of desserts at our large family gathering this year and one of the things I think I’ll do is bake our Rich and Creamy Cheesecake, but use the Gingersnap Crust from our Pumpkin Cheesecake, and then drizzle on our fresh, sweet Cranberry Sauce on top, decorated with whipped cream and these sparkly berries.  In my head, it’s pretty stellar.

Sparkly Sugared Cranberries from Our Best Bites


Hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

Sugared Cranberries

Only 2 ingredients required for a stunning sweet-tart snack! Perfect for an appetizer, sweet treat, or garnishing your favorite holiday dessert.


  • 12- ounce bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • *additional sugar for rolling see note below
  • *note: You can use regular granulated sugar for this recipe if you'd like to simplify things. I found the best results by first rolling in a slightly coarse sugar and then rolling in regular granulated sugar that I pulsed several times in my food processor to create a slightly finer sugar.


  • Wash cranberries and discard any damaged ones. Place in a bowl. Combine sugar and water in a pot and heat until simmering. Stir until sugar is dissolved and let cool for a few minutes until warm (not hot). Pour over cranberries and let sit in fridge, covered, overnight.
  • Use a slotted spoon to remove berries from syrup. Set berries on a cooling rack that is placed over foil to collect drips. Spread berries out so they are not touching each other. Let dry for 1 hour.
  • Roll berries a handful at a time in sugar (use the two-sugar technique from the notes if desired.) Place sugared berries on a baking sheet, or foil, etc. and let dry for an hour or two.


  • Great tip: I just store in a container at room temperature. Try not to stack them too deep if possible, the more they rub against each other long term, the greater the chance of the sugar rubbing off.
Author: Our Best Bites
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Getting ready for the big day?  Make sure to download our free Thanksgiving Planner Printable!  Also check out our most favorite recipes for the perfect Turkey and Gravy.  And if you need a great hostess gift for friends and family, get your Olive Oil orders in and they’ll ship asap!

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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. These are a traditional treat in Latvia, although they are covered in powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar. You still get some crunch and it’s still nice and sweet, although you can’t see the red of the berries. One note of caution, I actually had some ferment on me!

  2. OH my! I made these for Thanksgiving and they were a hit. My father-in-law could not stop eating them. My mother-in-law asked if I would bring them again for Christmas! Thank you!

  3. These were like all-natural sour patch kids! We couldn’t stop eating them. So good and so fun!

  4. Made these with all superfine sugar and they turned out great! Piled them on top of a pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving and they were a huge hit. Thank you for this great (and easy) idea.

  5. I am planning on doing these for tomorrow but don’t want to run to the store for larger grain sugar.
    Could I just do the same you do to the regular sugar and pulse some turbinado sugar until it’s finer? I hope this comment isn’t too late. I’m sure you guys are in the middle of prep work right now. Sara congrats on the new baby and Happy Thanksgiving to both of you!

  6. I am guessing these would be super awesome (just as they are of course but also…) with some orange zest in the simple syrup. Gonna have to try it!

  7. Hi Sara! Hope you and baby are doing well. I have a quick question. Your cheesecake idea with cranberry sauce sounds awesome! I think I’m going to copy you! 🙂 Just wondering, are you going to make the cranberry sauce with the optional cloves and cinnamon or leave those out? I’m trying to decide if those flavors go well with cheesecake? Thanks!

  8. Oh my goodness these are so Xmasy and festive. What a great garnish on all kinds of dishes. Delightful.

  9. Ah, I did not see where you said to save the simple syrup for teas or lemonade or sauce…did I miss that?

  10. I’ve had these and adore their look and taste. Question: how long do they last? Do they absorb moisture from the air and get sticky? Is it worth it to store with a couple of soda crackers (as I do with bulk sugar) to keep them from getting sticky? I assume fresh cranberries would be best, but would you consider using previously-frozen whole cranberries dried of their moisture?

  11. Wow! This is so perfect! I have dessert duty for Thanksgiving and I’m making triple-chocolate mousse cake. These little babies around the side of the cake plate will make it look fabulous. Thanks!

  12. I’ve never had sugared cranberries, but they’re sooo pretty, I may have to change that!

  13. I have had these and they are very tasty, but How do you store them? How long do they last at room temperature? It seems if you refrigerate them and then put them out at room temperature, the moisture released as they warm would compromise the sugar coating, making them a sticky mess.

    1. I just keep mine out on the counter at room temp. They’ve never lasted more than a day or two without getting eaten 🙂

  14. I just had these for the first time this week and they were amazing! I didn’t realize how simple they are to make. They were a little too easy to keep popping them in my mouth though! Dangerous…

  15. Your cheesecake idea sounds beautiful! Will you post a picture, so I can make it for Christmas? 🙂 Thanks for another great idea!

  16. Wow, this looks simple delicious! I might have to try this some time 🙂

  17. I am making these to put out at Thanksgiving, and our cookie exchange party, and probably Christmas too ~ they look fun and yummy too! Thanks for the tutorial 🙂