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How to Make Sugared Cranberries

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Sugared cranberries are the easiest and most perfect garnish for your Thanksgiving dessert or Christmas treat. Sprinkle them in a tall clear hurricane vase for your holiday tablescape, or use them to decorate your dessert buffet.

A close-up photo of sugared cranberries show the red fruits and sparkling sugar coating.

When I was working on The Ultimate Kids' Baking Book, I needed something extra-special to garnish the easy Thanksgiving dessert recipe.

I experimented with making these sugared cranberries and my girls couldn't stop watching as I tossed them in sugar.

The final effect is so cool, the sugared cranberries look frosted with snow and so very pretty. 

I shared a sneak peek at them in my Instagram Stories and polled whether or not to share the tutorial. The answer was a resounding "Yes, Please!" so here we go!

How to Make Sugared Cranberries

To make sugared cranberries, we'll use a simple two-step process.

  1. Toss them in simple syrup and let them dry.
  2. Toss the sticky berries in a bowl of sugar and let them dry again.

That's it!

The full recipe is at the bottom for you to print and use as a guide.

What Is Simple Syrup?

Simple syrup is the easiest recipe you'll ever use in your dessert or coffee making. In fact, it is an essential element to my DIY Christmas Coffee Bar!

You simply take 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water and stir them together in a saucepan.

Heat the mixture over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. So easy, right??

That's really all it is! You can change it up by adding flavorings:

  • Add some vanilla extract and you've got vanilla simple syrup
  • Add peppermint extract for peppermint syrup
  • And so on!

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How That Frosted Look Happens

But for the sugared berries, you don't need to add any flavorings, you just want the sugar-water mixture for coating the cranberries.

Once the water evaporates, the sugar crystals will remain on the cranberries, giving that signature snowy/frosty look.

How to make sugared cranberries and what to do with them for the holiday

What to Do with Sugared Cranberries

This is the fun part! Here are just a few ideas for how to use sugared cranberries:

  • Garnish a frosted dessert like cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
  • Garnish a holiday pie
  • Garnish your turkey platter for Thanksgiving
  • Garnish your cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning
  • Fill a bunch of mason jars and tie them with ribbon or twine for a simple table decor
  • Fill a hurricane vase and then stack candles inside
  • Dot them in a low floral arrangement
  • Fill a large bowl with fresh clementines and/or oranges and toss in a few sugared cranberries for an edible centerpiece

These desserts would all look lovely with some sugared cranberries sprinkled over the top or on the platter:

How to make sugared cranberries for garnish

How Long Will They Last?

It depends on whether you plan to eat them or not.

I feel a lot more comfortable making them in advance if I plan to use them as a decoration on the table vs. a garnish for a food where they will be eaten.

They are so easy to make, if you plan to eat them that I would do it no earlier than the night before. 

If you plan to just use them as decor, they will hold their appearance for at least a week if you keep them in an air-tight container. 

๐Ÿ“– Recipe

A bowl of sugared cranberries up close so you can see the sparkly sugar.

Sugared Cranberries

5 from 2 votes
This super easy sugared cranberries recipe makes a breathtaking garnish for your holiday dessert or accent for your holiday table. Let your kids prepare them, they will love watching the process!
TOTAL TIME 2 hours 5 minutes
PREP TIME 5 minutes
COOK TIME 2 hours
YIELD 2.5 cups berries


For the simple syrup:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 16 oz bag of fresh cranberries

For the final dusting:

  • 1 cup sugar


  • In a large saucepan combine 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water over medium heat. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved but don't let it come to a full boil.
  • Wash and rinse the cranberries. Lay a wire rack out on the counter over a large piece of parchment paper for easy cleanup.
  • Add the cranberries to the saucepan and toss to coat in the syrup. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the wire rack. Spread them out in a single layer and let them dry for 1 hour.
  • Place the remaining 1 cup sugar in a large bowl. Use the slotted spoon to transfer the berries into the bowl and gently toss them in the sugar until they are coated. Return them to their single layer on the wire rack to dry for an additional hour.
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  2. We made these for the first time last Thanksgiving, and when I asked my daughter what her one Have-to-Have Thanksgiving food this year was, she asked for these.

    So delicious! We use them as a nibble during the day to help folks wait for the turkey. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. 5 stars
    We made these for the first time last Thanksgiving, and when I asked my daughter what her one Have-to-Have Thanksgiving food this year was, she asked for these.

    So delicious! We use them as a nibble during the day to help folks wait for the turkey. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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