The perfect combination of sweet and tart, these Sugared Cranberries are made with just 3 ingredients! They make an easy garnish for drinks and desserts and are perfect for holiday snacking too.
An Easy Sugared Cranberries Recipe
If you’re looking for an easy way to add some festive cheer to your desserts, drinks, or even a cheese board, these candied cranberries are a must-make. All you need is 3 ingredients – sugar, cranberries, and orange zest – to turn fresh, tart cranberries into a sweet and sour treat you won’t be able to keep your hands off of.
While some versions of sugar-coated cranberries are made with just cranberries and sugar, I like the addition of orange zest. In a pinch, you could leave it out but I highly recommend adding it. The citrus nicely complements the tart cranberries and sweet sugar, giving another layer of depth to the flavor.
What You’ll Need
This easy cranberry treat is made with just 3 ingredients. Woot!
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
- Cranberries: It’s essential to use fresh, not frozen, cranberries for this recipe.
- Granulated sugar: Granulated sugar is used in two parts of this recipe – once to make a simple syrup and also for the cranberries to be rolled in.
- Orange zest: Adds a hint of citrus flavor that pairs nicely with the cranberries.
- Water: We don’t consider this an ingredient, but you will need water.
How to Make Sugared Cranberries
Sugared cranberries are simple to make, just be sure to allow ample time for them to cool between steps.
(Don’t miss the complete printable recipe card below with all the details.)
- Make the simple syrup. Bring water and sugar to a simmer, stirring until the sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the cranberries. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
- Allow the cranberries to cool. Transfer the cranberries to a wire cooling rack using a slotted spoon. Keep them separated to avoid clumps of syrup. Let them dry for an hour, at which point the cranberries should be dry but still sticky.
- Coat the cranberries in sugar. Combine the remaining sugar with orange zest. Gently transfer the cranberries, a few at a time, to the sugar and scoop sugar over the tops, gently pressing onto the cranberries until fully coated.
- Dry completely. Place the cranberries on a clean surface in a single layer to continue drying, at least 1 hour.
Tips for Success
If this is your first time making candied cranberries, here are some things you’ll want to keep in mind.
- Do not use frozen cranberries. This sugared cranberries recipe will not turn out with frozen cranberries. Once thawed, they are still pretty wet, which will just liquefy the sugar and make it clump. Not the texture you’re going for!
- Make sure the simple syrup is dried to a sticky touch. If it’s not, you’ll end up with clumps of sugar rather than an even coating.
- Don’t toss the leftover ingredients! You will have some cranberry simple syrup left over, which you can save for hot tea, cocktails, or smoothies. It’s also likely you’ll have a bit of orange-zested sugar left, which can be put to good use in whipped cream and baking recipes.
Ways to Use Them
These candied cranberries are so fun and festive! Here are a few ways to serve them:
- Atop these Eggnog Cheesecake Bars or your favorite cheesecake.
- As a garnish for this beautiful Lemon Tart.
- Pair a few with Chocolate Mousse.
- With a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
- As a garnish for Vanilla Panna Cotta or other custard.
- On a cheese board.
- As a snack all on their own!
How to Store
- How to store sugared cranberries. Let your cranberries dry completely, then store them in a loosely covered container at room temperature. They’ll stay fresh for about 2-3 days then they may start to soften and weep a bit. At this point you can cook them down into a sauce or quick jam. Delish!
- How to store the cranberry simple syrup. You’ll have some of the simple syrup leftover, which you can save for hot tea, cocktails, or smoothies. You can simply store it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
More Cranberry Recipes:
- Cranberry Christmas Cake
- Homemade Cranberry Sauce
- Cranberry Fluff
- Apple Cranberry Crisp
- Cranberry Honey Butter
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cups granulated sugar , divided
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries (do not use frozen)
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- Place water and 1/2 cup of the sugar in a shallow saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is fully dissolved, about 3 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and gently stir in the cranberries, making sure each cranberry is well coated. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cranberries to a wire cooling rack, keeping them separated (this will help avoid clumps of syrup, which will result in clumps of sugar.)
- Let them dry for 1 hour, at which point the cranberries should be dry, but still sticky.
- Combine the remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar and orange zest in a shallow bowl, then working with a few cranberries at a time, lightly lift them with the tips of your fingers and transfer to the sugar. Scoop the sugar over the tops to cover the cranberries. Roll them around and gently press the sugar to the cranberry until fully coated.
- Transfer coated cranberries to a clean surface in a flat, single layer to continue drying completely, at least 1 hour. Then use them as a garnish for all your holiday desserts or set them out for snacking!NOTE: Don't toss the leftover simple syrup or citrus sugar – you can use them. See note below.