Sparkling Cranberries

Around the holidays these pretty, sugared, sparkling cranberries are perfect. Tart and sweet, they glint and wink in the surrounding holiday lights, and lend a striking dash of red to the table.

Sparkling Cranberries

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.
Sparkling Cranberries Recipesparkling_cranberries2.jpg

What Type of Sugar?

This is key, and I've experimented with a range of sugars here. 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, coconut sugar, and Rapadura. So I gave up trying to do a less refined sugar version. Take note, 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.
Sparkling Cranberries Recipe

They are simple to make, but you need to do the first step the night before. I like to toss the cranberries in sugar the next morning, and off and on throughout the day so they have time to dry and crisp up. Enjoy, and happiest holidays!

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Sparkling Cranberries

4.14 from 29 votes

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, plus more for coating (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.
  1. Place the cranberries in a medium glass bowl and set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Do a second toss with the regular granulated sugar, this typically takes care of any sticky spots on the cranberries. Let dry another hour or so.


Makes 2 cups of sparkling cranberries.

Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Recipe Rating


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

Faith Kramer

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?


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

Beeyootiful!! Love these so much! :-)


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

This would be a BEAUTIFUL centerpiece!


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


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

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

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

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

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


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.


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 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!


These are absolutely gorgeous! What a pretty sparkling idea.


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

Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks

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


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

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

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