Sparkling Cranberries

Sparkling Cranberries Recipe

I've become convinced that these sparkling, sugared cranberries should be a part of every holiday spread. They glint and wink in the surrounding holiday lights, and lend a striking dash of red to the table. Another great thing is the way they effortlessly make the transition from savory course to sweet. So, for example, I've become fond of serving them as part of a cheese spread, but I imagine they'd be nice as the finishing touch on on a tart or clustered atop a crème brûlée or pudding of some sort.


I've experimented with a range of sugars here, and some work better than others. In the beginning, I wanted to make them with a maple sugar coating - but the cranberries looked like they had been dropped in dust. The same goes for raw cane sugar, and Rapadura. So I gave up trying to do a less refined version. And extra-fine grain sugar didn't work well either - clumpy. Essentially, the best way to get a good sparkling sugar crust on your cranberries is to first roll them in an slightly-chunky organic sugar (something like this), and later toss them in regular granulated sugar. The small grains of the granulated sugar cling to any spots that are still sticky from the simple syrup.

They are simple to make, but you need to start them the night before.

Sparkling Cranberries

For the simple syrup, raw cane sugar or real brown sugar lends a nice molasses flavor to the cranberries, but regular granulated sugar (or a blend of brown/white) will work.

2 cups cranberries, picked over
2 cups water
2 cups sugar (see head notes)

More sugar for coating: I do a mix of medium-grained organic sugar for the first coating, and then a second toss with regular granulated white sugar. You don't want a huge grain for that first toss, just something larger than standard sugar, smaller than most turbinado sugars. You can sort of see the different grain sizes in the third photo in the main write-up.

Place the cranberries in a medium glass bowl and set aside.

Make a simple syrup by bringing the water and sugar just to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Let the syrup cool for a couple minutes and then pour it over the cranberries. If the syrup is too hot the cranberries will burst, so be careful. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, drain the cranberries and toss them with larger grained sugar until they are well coated. I only use a scoop of sugar at a time, and small batches of cranberries, so the sugar doesn't get too damp. Place the coated cranberries on a baking sheet to dry for a few hours.

Do a second toss with the regular granulated sugar, this typically takes care of any sticky spots on the cranberries. Let dry another hour.

Makes 2 cups of sparkling cranberries.

Prep time: 5 min - Cook time: 60 min

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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These look gorgeous!


Heidi, you've captured winter cranberries so precisely! The frosted ice crystals surrounding each berry give the appearance of freshly picked berries on a very cold and frosty winter day. This is a beautiful ornament to give holiday dishes that extra festive Christmas flair! Thanks for sharing!

Christine @ Fresh Local and Best

Wow! I'll take one of these on top of my ice cream in lieu of a maraschino cherry any day.


For the first toss, do you think I could give some demerara sugar a whirl in the blender/food processor to break it down a little bit smaller, but still have that great taste/texture?

HS: Hard to say, I think it would probably scratch and beat up the grains, and wouldn't be as sparkly.


I'm making these ASAP!


These look so festive and as you said perfect with a cheese spread!

Cooking Foodie

Sparkling indeed. I can certainly see these topping off a winter pudding - they would contrast with custards beautifully.

Daily Spud

they look so cute!


they look delicious! cant wait to eat some.


Oh dear, I think those would be a massive hit at my house!!

christie @ honoring health

These festive cranberries are simply gorgeous, Heidi!


So pretty! My sister has vetoed decorating our apartment for Christmas (we won't be spending Christmas here) so I am consoling myself by putting Not-Quite-Christmas-Decorations about the place: pine cones and sprigs of greenery and cheery poinsettias....and as much festive food as I can make. These look ideal for my purposes!


These are so cute! I can't wait to try them.


Visions of sparkling cranberries will now dance in my head..
(have you ever actually tried to sugar plums? Gee - this is the first time I have given the phrase deep thought).
Thank you for your always beautiful images. It's such a pleasure to find this in the morning RSS feed.
Happy Holidays,

Michaela at The Gardener's Eden

I have made these in the past to go with my Yule Log cake. I add some orange zest and a tiny bit of orange juice in the simple sugar. Delicious!

rebekah jones

Wow. I've got to try these, they look beautiful. Amazing photography as usual.

Thanks for the idea!


Those are so beautiful and intriguing, I can't wait to try them!


So pretty! Do these need to be refrigerated after they're done? How long do you think they'd last, assuming they're not scooped up and inhaled within minutes of serving?

HS: Keep them at room temp, and we always eat them the day of. But you might have luck storing them in a dry, air-tight container overnight...


Eating cranberries is a new experience for me beside a cranberry sauce. How would you eat them as part of a cheese spread? Sprinkle them on top of a cheese and cracker. I really want to try to make this for my in laws, but I don't want to show up not knowing how to eat it!


What a beautiful addition to a holiday table! My mind is racing with all the possibilities. Great tips about the right sugars to use.

cookin' Canuck

My daughter (now 12 years old) has made these every Christmas since she was 7!

We store them in the refrigerator. They are cold and crunchy sweet on the outside and explode with tartness when you bite them.

I'm thinking of adding them to a salad with blue cheese and walnuts.......

We will try your sugar variation this year!


Oh those are just beautiful!!!

Simply Life

I've been making these for Thanksgiving and serving them with pumpkin pie. The combination of flavors is wonderful.


My Goodness Heidi! These look incredible. I just want to pop on my mouth! YUM!

Weekly Bite

These are beautiful and they look delicious! I can't wait to try these!


Do these need to be served pretty much immediately? After they dry out, does the sparkly sugar "disappear" after a while? I'm wondering because I'd love to make them way ahead of time.


Genius! What a great idea for a winter cheese plate!


Stunning and simple! I can totally see how you have to go regular sugar here. It's too bad but, heck, it's that time of year for sure :-)

Michelle @ Find Your Balance

Great way to use that extra bag of cranberries I bought at the store last week! Although, I'm afraid these might be a tad too easy to snack on constantly!!

heather @ chiknpastry

I love making sugared cranberries! Such a tasty and diffferent treat. A welcome break from all the pies and cookies!


The cranberries are gorgeous and I'm sure they taste fabulous. I'm already envisioning a multitude of uses.

Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks

These are absolutely gorgeous! What a pretty sparkling idea.


What a nice holiday treat. I do something similar for sugar and spice pecans using egg whites as a binder.

Addictive! Pounds will be gained.

tom | tall clover farm

What an ingenious idea! Those are possibly more festive than gingerbread men, which is saying quite a lot. I can't wait to try this!


i do these but i toss them in maple syrup and then put them in the fridge over night - they get a nice crisp candy-like coating on them and BURST with cranberry juice when you bite down on them. always a hit!


these look so great! i was just thinking about what to do with all the cranberries in my fridge when i came across this. i made them a few minutes ago and i'll have pictures on my blog tomorrow! love your site!


Lisa Fischoff

We do this, but we use 1 tsp of Cardamon to 2 cups of sugar on our cranberries, I think the Cardamon really adds something extra. I love them!

HS: I LOVE this idea! Thanks Bree. I've have to give this a try.


can you make these the night beofre you serve them? I would hate for the sugar to disappear before I serve them? thanks.


I am definitely making these for my new years party - what a perfect (easy, cheap) centerpiece! thank you!


Okay, I had to read all the comments to make sure these were edible :) Can' wait to make them - thanks for such a perfect winter recipe.

Jill P

Hi - first off, love your recipes, esp the simple cauliflower saute and chocolate cake.
Secondly, the cranberries in sugar are an old holiday tradition in Estonia. I remember eating those every winter when growing up. We dip them in beaten egg whites, then roll them in powdered sugar, leave them to dry until the icing hardens and voila - cranberry candy.

Happy holidays!

Puhvis Kukk

I was surprised to see this post today, since I've never seen these except when I made them a few years ago! I just put them in a bowl on the food table and people ate them like snacks. Very pretty too!


thank you! i love the tips about the different kinds of sugar and I'm considering bree's suggested addition of cardamom...

twilight at morningside

Oh my! This is destiny for me as I have 25 lbs of cranberries sitting in my freezer. I'll bet you can all guess where I live. (Hint...think of a Tea Party)


Funny... I was just playing with whole cranberries this morning over my hot cereal... was wondering if you had any good uses...

I like coincidences. ;)

Always great stuff, Heidi.

Tom Marsh

Wow, these look gorgeous. And I have a bag of cranberries in my refrigerator. Can't wait to make them!


wow, so simple and striking. Also, congrats on the recipe in Food in Wine, looks wonderful!

HS: Thanks for the heads up Sara, I'll have to go track down a copy!


This would be a BEAUTIFUL centerpiece!


I make these cranberries and serve them with Sugared Curried Pecans.


Heidi, These look gorgeous! Can't wait to try. The photograph is also beautiful :) Seeing Naomi Starkman this afternoon for a brief walk. I'd love for the three of us, some day, to get together so I can meet you! Best, Naomi Fiss

HS: Say hi to Naomi for me! It has been too long since I've seen her.

Naomi Fiss

Absolutely beautiful!

I've made these several times using another recipe, but always had issues here and there with the sugar coating sticking completely. I cannot wait to make them with your recipe. Just what I've been looking for.

lisa @ dandysugar

Is the raw cane sugar you referred to in your trial version sucanat or something else?
Maple and cranberry does sound super delicious...maybe the "dusty" look would make them appealing to toddlers? :)

HS: The kids seem to love these, which kind of surprised me because of the tartness of the cranberries....All of those sucanat-ish sweeteners make for unattractive cranberries. Wish it weren't so, but...


Beeyootiful!! Love these so much! :-)


Ahhh, these are just perfect! I'll definitely pair these with my Spiced Eggnog Cheesecake shots for a pretty holiday spread. Thank you!!!

Kimberly @ Poor Girl Eats Well

I love cranberries! These gorgeous little red jewels are highly unappreciated! I moved to Brasil almost 2 yrs. ago and unfortunately they are not to be found anywhere! I miss them sorely, esp. around the holidays (I made your "spice-kissed pumpkin pie" to cheer myself up this past Thanksgiving, it was delish). I am definitely keeping this recipe around for that one day when I move back to the States.


Yum. Could you add a little vanilla extract to the simple sugar before its poured over the cranberries. What kind of cheese do folks recommend?


How beautiful!
These will be topping my mini-cheesecakes this new year!

Faith Kramer

Oh, these are stunning, and I imagine they taste lovely, besides -- sweet and tart, each bite a little different. Lovely to see a recipe for these that doesn't use egg whites, i.e. that is completely edible! Thanks, Molly


stunning and delicious! perfect for any holiday celebration and spread. I'm thinking of adding some crushed walnuts or pecans to it!


I love cranberries but have only ever had them as relish and the dried version (which I add to oatmeal cookies and salads).

A couple of questions:

So does the heat of the simple syrup cook them some or are they still essentially raw?

How long do they keep?


I'm confused... are the cranberries essentially raw but covered in sugar?

HS: Pretty much.


What a heavenly natural sweet for the season!


These are so beautiful. I have made sugar covered blueberries before but never cranberries. I will have to give it a try :)

Nutmeg Nanny

Fantastic idea! I must use it for a cupcake recipe soon!!!


I can't wait to try these! Ibet they have the perfect balance of sweet and tart! The color is fabulous!


Wow - these look great! Tart and Sweet - all together! Perfect :)

How do you store them? Could you also pls tell me how long they last



This is amazing color to pop a salad or topping off a bowl of hot oatmeal in the



Those are gorgeous! And I love how simple the recipe is. I will definitely give these a try.

I've been wanting post a note and say how much I enjoy your blog: your images are exceptionally beautiful and I really appreciate your respect for ingredients.


WOW. Another great recipe!

Would these keep, to be given as holiday gifts? Or would the sugar crystals melt or stick together?


Susan Owen

These are beautiful! I am going to make them for our holiday party. I wonder how sweet they are. i think I might have a batch of overly tart cranberries. I wonder if this amount of sugar sweetens them up enough to eat alone. Either way, I am making them for my party table! Thank you.


These are so pretty. I am thinking they would be awesome on creme brûlée.

What other fruits can you do this to?


These a really pretty. I'm not sure if I can get fresh cranberries here in Australia, at least I have never seen them for sale. Do you know if I can use thawed frozen cranberries?


I'm a little confused. The 2 cups of sugar in the ingredients list is JUST for the simple syrup, right, not for the whole recipe?


Thanks for the Sparkling Cranberries recipe. I am going to do this for Christmas day. I also love mixing cooked cranberries with finely chopped pecans and cream cheese to stuff celery bites and to stuff jumbo black olives. Something about the combination of cranberries, pecan, and cream cheese really makes great spread and raw veggie and olive stuffing. My family always asks for this every holiday .


These are GORGEOUS and so festive!


Sometimes you read a recipe and just know that it is a must try.
This is one of the most creative and simple recipes for fresh cranberries I have ever seen.
The combination with cream cheese and nuts is perfect. I must try it.
I often use fresh cranberries when I make chutneys. Their tartness is perfect with the sweet and spicy flavors.

Debra Samuels

Hmm...string them into a necklace and wear 'em?

Jessica Lee Binder

Heidi - I JUST saw this blog mentioned in O Magazine! Congrats and happy holidays, (PS these cranberries look amazing!)

Carla DeSantis

I have made these for the past few years and they are always a big hit. The recipe I know is a bit different - you use corn syrup, just roll them in your fingers with the syrup (yes, very sticky!) then drop in a bowl of sugar to coat. One hand for sticky, one hand for rolling.

And to answer previous questions, they can last a good long time. I still have a dish from over a week ago on my counter. It depends on the humidity - they do respond so I put them in the fridge if needed. Eventually they go "off" (slightly vinegary).

They are fabulous for just tossing onto any dish - main course or dessert - for a festive garnish, or in a bowl with spiced nuts!


Heidi, I've just found your website (I've made your gnocchi with great success!) and I'd love to make these sugary treats for our Christmas lunch table..but we're in Australia and so far, I can only find dried cranberries...hopefully we'll get the real thing sometime soon (I'm guessing a couple of years wait)...Merry Christmas from Down Under! xox


what a great idea. If I'd read this a few days ago. I had a load of cranberries and stewed them but this is genius and they would look real pretty on a tarte

The Curious Baker

This look fantastic!



These look fabulous! I always get so excited to see a new recipe posted!!

I was hoping you would be so kind elaborate on the cheese spread you paired with these cranberries. I'm very intrigued.

Thank you and keep up the great work!


Those are stunning! I love it! The recipe is simple yet it looks like it is not. I will like to give it a try. And also, thumbs up to your photos!

dining set

BEAUTIFUL!! They look like sugar plums :)



I am LOVING these sparkling, festive recipes! I love these as a healthier alternative to Christmas candy.

How long do you think these would last? (Assuming, probably falsely, that they're not eaten up immediately)

Alex :)


These look as beautiful as they do tasty.
I'm also curious (as Alex is in the comment above me) how long these would last. Are they something to be packaged as a holiday 'gift'?


Beautiful photos. The cranberries sparkle like little jewels. I usually see sugar coated fruits like this made with raw egg whites which I loathe. This is a lovely alternative.

Erika from The Pastry Chef At Home

I just made a post on my blog about these little beauties, but I think yours turned out nicer. Thanks for sharing your method!


I've never tried to candy fruit (although I want to try orange rind soon), and I avoid sugar, but these photos are so wonderful to look at!


BEAUTIFUL ~ I always love your pictures and presentation. These pics seriously make me want to attempt to make sugared cranberries, but, I am not sure I'd know what to do with them all after that :D LOL.

Thanks for sharing - love it!


Hey Heidi,
I have a question regarding using your recipes. I'm compiling some recipes from my favorite blogs (yours included), for some family members and providing them with print copies of them for them to use at home without having to use the computer. I'm calling it a "cookbook" but its really me just copying and pasting recipes into a word document and having them bound together for a handful of family members.

Nothing will be sold; nothing will be posted on a blog, and I will obviously tell my family members where the recipes were procured from. I just wanted to get the okay that I'm not violating any of your site rules. I've tried emailing, but I know that you probably get swamped, so I wanted to try this way. I don't really want to do anything for christmas without permission.


For a dinner party we threw last night, we topped homemade vanilla bean ice cream with these. So simple yet elegant. And the flavor and texture contrast was delightful.

I also put some on my oatmeal this morning - yum!


One word ...... STUNNING!


These look so sweet. I am going to give them a go with maple sugar.

Meghan (Making Love In The Kitchen)

I made these last night for Christmas gifts and ate ONLY 5 in the process. When I woke up this morning, I found that my family had eaten ALL OF THEM. This being said, I have a small criticism: they are too tasty!

I'm making another batch tonight, this time with a brown sugar simple syrup.


Wow! Totally festive and beautiful, gotta try this.

Scott at Real Epicurean

These are very pretty, like little jewels. I wish I were as energetic a cook as you are Heidi!



I know that this is probably a repetitive comment since so many people have said it- Thank you for posting this (and many other!) recipes - these cranberries are delicious and beautiful. (It also helped that I had 10 pounds of cranberries in my fridge...)

Thank you!


Just made them... they're delicious and beautiful! Thank you for sharing!


I made these to take to a pot luck dinner today. (Also did some of the pan-fried chickpeas salad which is divine!) I followed one of the other commenters and subbed some orange juice (abt 1/2 cup) for some of the water and also some orange zest. Left the zest in big pieces and candied that, too. While mine aren't as pretty as yours, they are pretty enough and very tasty. Thanks!


Oh yeah - any ideas for the sugar/orange syrup? It's too tasty to just throw away.


These look AMAZING! I have some fake ones from the craft store sitting around my house during the holidays- but these... THESE... are the real deal. I always want to eat the fakes ones, but these ones I actually can.
They are beautiful! Thanks for posting!

Savannah at Kitchen @ 9th and 9th

What a wonderful post and a beautiful photograph....I just made these and they are delicious...I can't wait to serve them to my guests for the holidays...they are going to love them...

Happy Holidays and thank you for this fabulous recipe...I look forward to your posts in 2010.


The Healthy Apple

The Healthy Apple

Cranberries are my new fav! I like crasins! Yummy!

Tracy Couture


What's the purpose of the simple syrup and the time soaking in it? Aside from sticking the sugar to them, I thought maybe it would plump them up. Does it dehydrate the berries a little? It seemed like I ended with more syrup than I had started with, and I hated to throw it out (I even did a second batch with the syrup which seemed syrup-y all the same after the first batch).

That said, they ARE beautiful. And yummy!


Those look absolutely amazing!!! Can't wait to try them!

Greg Kopp



So simple and so stunning. Brilliant idea.


These look great! I'm planning to try them with a cheese spread over NYE - my parents are visiting me and my husband in our new home!

Where can we find organic sugar? I really only have access to general grocery stores here. Can we use just regular sugar for both coats? Would natural sugar be coarse enough to substitute for the organic sugar? Looking forward to trying them!


They look amazing and I'm going to make them to go with our cheese on xmas day. Just one question- how long will they last? Is today too early to start soaking them?


Could you make these two days before serving? Rather than worrying about the sugar tossing, I was hoping to start these on the 23rd, roll and toss them on the 24th, and then chill until dinner time on Christmas. Will they keep their luster or do they need to be made on the day of?


this is a brilliant idea! they look absolutely gorgeous, and im sure they're delicious as well!

charlotte s

These are wonderful gems on the holiday table. I just made them. So easy, sweet tart and fun! Everyone's eye will be drawn to them like magic! Thanks for such a lovely addition to my recipe box!

Donna L

I do these the same as all, but i save some to harden and i give them to my friend and she puts them in candels for me. It is so relaxing.


The only problem with these is figuring out what to do with the syrup. I used a mixture of white and brown sugars and it is divine. Thanks!

Cindy @ Fix Me A Snack

Made these for company last night. They were a big hit.


I made these to decorate a Christmas fruit platter and they are like jewels! I had only frozen berries but they plumped up in the syrup, look just like fresh.


Merry Christmas! I usually read the comments before making your lovely recipes to get extra ideas. This time it was well worth it. Sparkling cranberries made w/ half organic cane sugar and brown sugar with a tsp. of cardamom. The jewels have a interesting Christmasy note with the spice and I will use the syrup for pancakes and waffles. Another thought would be simple syrup for gin, vodka type holiday type drinks! Thanks again Heidi for the best, healthiest innovative ideas for our Christmas dinner!!!


Hi Heidi,
I've been following your blog for about a year now. I can't say I often follow your recipes as written, but what makes this site so invaluable to me is the inspiration I get from your food choices and combinations and the amazing photography that accompanies it.

I made these cranberries for a wine party I hosted and people went absolutely crazy over them. They said pairing these with wine was perfect because it automatically made every wine taste just a tad sweeter and more fruity. I ate my fair share, as well, and they were fantastic... not to mention gorgeous. Thanks so much for the recipe!


HS: Glad they were such a hit Holland!


Tried your sparkling cranberries this past weekend and they were fantastic!!! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe. They looked beautiful and tasted delicious! Great with a cheese and crackers spread as someone suggested above.

Amy Kingman

I just made these and they are beautiful! I made them my mother-in-law's house in Denver, Co, and think I probably could have let them dry a shorter time before coating with the regular sugar--they were already very dry and there wasn't much opportunity for additional sticking of sugar. I am still learning about how to bake at 5280 feet and super-dry air. They are absolutely gorgeous and delicious, though. Thinking about wine pairings for our wine-and-appetizers soiree with the neighbors--maybe Prosecco?

Christine Whittinton

I made these but with cherries!
(I live in Australia and whilst quality fresh cranberries are scarce, beautiful ripe cherries are in abundance at the moment)
They worked out so well as a lovely snack whilst opening presents...I've been asked to make more for the new years party.
What a wonderfully Christmas-y snack. Thank you Heidi :)


These are so beautiful- wish I had seen before Christmas dinner, but am bookmarking.

Deborah Dowd

I was all set to comment that I'm the only weirdo who didn't like these. They do look lovely. But my cranberries didn't taste good. Next thing I know, my daughter has consumed an entire cupful and wants to know how soon we can make more. Okay, I guess I am the only weirdo. In other news, this doesn't work with blueberries (had a lot so I tried it with a few. blue mush.)


I made these yesterday and they look amazing! But I'm with PaprikaPink- they taste kinda wierd. I love cranberry sauce, crasins, juice, martinis- anything with cranberries in them, but the raw ones just tasted musty and bitter with a crunchy sugar coating.


Fantastic, yet simple. Thanks for a new "favorite" to include in holiday fare......or to help guest feel special!


Thank you for this recipe. I made my simple syrup with cardamom sugar to give it even more of a holiday flavor.


These cranberries look beautiful like a Christmas decoration!


WOW. Another great recipe! Thank you.

Asa Akira

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