Sugared Cranberries

December 1, 2019

‘Tis the season for starlit trees, shiny ornaments, festive sparkly lights and all the glittery things! The holiday season is […]

pound cake topped with pink cranberry glaze and sugared cranberries

‘Tis the season for starlit trees, shiny ornaments, festive sparkly lights and all the glittery things! The holiday season is in full swing and we are all about this “it only looks fancy” 10-minute tip to add a little dash of sparkle and shine that the holidays deserve. These pretty sugared cranberries are so simple to make and will transform all of your desserts into an instant winter wonderland.

Sugared cranberries make a fabulously festive garnish for pound cakes, cupcakes, tarts, pavlovas and even holiday cocktails. They make everything look fancy-ish with barely any effort. I can’t wait for you to try them!

cranberries in bowl of sanding sugar

Why I love sugared cranberries

Fun and festive! I make these sugared cranberries every holiday season. They’re perfect for decorating cakes and topping off cocktails.

Easy to make. You’ll need just three ingredients and about 15 minutes of hands-on time to make these sparkly red gems. And you can make them days in advance. Always a bonus during the busy holiday season!

Delicious. Sugared cranberries are both sweet and tart and are a delicious treat for snacking on all holiday season long!


This recipe could seriously not be any easier. And it’s totally fool-proof. All you need is a small pot and three ingredients. It’s that easy!

  • Cranberries – use fresh, not frozen.
  • Sugar
  • Water
sugared cranberry ingredients

How to make sugared cranberries

Not only are these sugared cranberries pretty AND delicious, but they’re super easy to make. Follow this step-by-step guide and check out the recipe card below for ingredients and detailed instructions.

Step 1: Start off by “cherry” picking the best of the best from the cranberry batch. You want to choose the prettiest, freshest cranberries that have a bright red color and are nicely rounded and petite.

Step 2: Make a simple sugar syrup using equal parts sugar and water in a pot over medium heat.

Step 3: Place the cranberries in the sugar syrup and let sit for 5 minutes.

Step 4: Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cranberries to a wire rack to dry for 10 minutes. Avoid touching the cranberries after they are coated in the simply syrup – they will be sticky.

Step 5: Add the sugar of your choice to a small bowl. Carefully spoon the cranberries into the sugar bowl, using the spoon or your fingers to coat all sides in sugar. For best results, coat a handful of cranberries at a time, working in batches.

Step 6: Carefully transfer the sugared cranberries to a wire rack or parchment lined baking sheet to dry for one hour.

how to make sugared cranberries
cranberries soaked in sugar syrup drying on wire rack

Tips for perfect sugared cranberries

Use the best of the bunch. Be sure to pick through the bag of berries to find the very best, firmest cranberries you can find. There are always a few duds in the bunch so set those aside and save them for your cranberry muffins or bundt cake.

Hands off the berries. Once the cranberries and the rosemary have been dipped into the sugar syrup, avoid touching them too much with your fingers. The coating will become less tacky making it harder for the sugar to stick to the berries. Be sure to use a slotted spoon to transfer the berries from the saucepan to the drying rack and then use a small spoon to move them again into the sugar bowl.

Sugar, sugar. Once the cranberries and rosemary sprigs have been place in the bowl of sugar, use your hands or a small spoon to cover all sides in sugar. Roll them around to cover completely. Once covered in sugar, they will be less sticky and can be easily transferred to a baking rack to dry.

For best results….allow the sugar coated cranberries and rosemary sprigs to dry at room temperature for at least an hour before using to decorate your cake or garnish a cocktail. After an hour, the berries and rosemary can be placed in an airtight container and kept in the refrigerator until ready to use.

fresh cranberries and rosemary sprigs on wire cooling rack

Which sugar works best

Now since I know you are going to ask, let’s talk sugar. I’ve made these festive sugared cranberries and rosemary sprigs with three different types of sugar. Decorative sparkling sugar, cane sugar and regular granulated sugar. It really just depends on what look you are going for. I like cane sugar because it’s a larger grain of sugar and a tad more sparkly. Granulated sugar creates a snow-like coating of sugar. Meanwhile, sparkling sugar crystals are on the larger side with lots of sparkle. Whichever sugar you choose, they all will create a wintery, snowy white sugar topped cranberry that is almost too pretty to eat. Try them all or mix and match!

cranberries coated in different kinds of sugar
cranberries rolled in granulated sugar

You can use the same method for sugaring sprigs of rosemary. They look like little snow dusted trees and are perfect or decorating layer cakes and for garnish on your holiday dessert buffet.

rosemary sprigs resting in shallow bowl of course sugar
coconut cake topped with sugar covered rosemary trees

How to store

What I love best about this easy recipe is that the sugared cranberries and rosemary can be made a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to decorate your holiday dessert. With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s always nice to have things prepped and ready to go in advance. Especially when they turn out this pretty. Be sure to hang on to the left-over simple syrup….it’s perfect for cocktails!

Enjoy these festive little cake or cocktail toppers. And be sure to tag @brownedbutterblondie on Instagram if you dress up your desserts with these sugared cranberries or rosemary sprigs. I can’t wait to see your creations!

Happy Holidays!

Looking for more easy and delicious holiday recipes?

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Sugared Cranberries Recipe

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  • Author: Heather Mubarak
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x
  • Category: Sweets
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: American


Sugared cranberries are a simple and festive garnish for all of your holiday cakes, cupcakes, tarts and cocktails. Made in just minutes with three ingredients, they are almost too pretty to eat!


Units Scale
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated, cane or sparkling sugar for coating


  1. Place 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan.
  2. Stir together while heating over medium-high heat.
  3. Continue to stir occasionally until sugar dissolves and mixture begins to boil.
  4. Remove from heat and add 1/2 cup cranberries.
  5. Allow berries to sit for 4-5 minutes in the sugar water mixture.
  6. Using a slotted spoon, remove cranberries from saucepan and place on a baking rack or parchment paper for 10 minutes.
  7. Repeat with the other 1/2 cup of cranberries.
  8. Next, place 1 heaping cup of granulated sugar, organic cane sugar, or sparkling sugar in a small bowl.
  9. Add a few cranberries at a time and use fingers or small spoon to gently roll in the sugar to coat completely on all sides.
  10. Remove and place on a clean baking rack to dry.
  11. Repeat with remaining cranberries.
  12. For best results, leave to dry at room temperature for one hour.
  13. Decorate cakes, cupcakes, tarts and more with the sugared cranberries and rosemary.
  14. Or, prepare ahead of time and place in a covered container and refrigerate until ready to use.


For best results, use sugared cranberries and rosemary within two days.
Do not freeze.

  • Reply
    December 21, 2023 at 12:43 am

    Can you use monk fruit to coat the cranberries and rosemary?

    • Reply
      Heather Mubarak
      December 21, 2023 at 5:24 am

      It’s certainly worth a try!

  • Reply
    October 12, 2020 at 6:32 pm

    Thank you! Can I used dried or freezed cranberries?

    • Reply
      Heather Mubarak
      October 13, 2020 at 5:08 am

      These won’t work using dried cranberries and fresh is best for making sugared cranberries. They should be showing up in stores soon!

  • Reply
    December 13, 2019 at 6:37 pm

    Just made these and they turned out perfectly! I’m working on some little cranberry and rosemary tassies, so they were literally the perfect thing to top them with! Thanks Heather!! xo – Anita

    • Reply
      Heather Mubarak
      December 16, 2019 at 9:59 am

      Yay!! I’m so glad to hear that Anita!

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