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Making sugared cranberries for the holiday is so simple with just two ingredients and so impressive, too! They are beautiful as toppers on desserts, to dress up a cocktail or just for a festive snack! If you’ve never made them before, I have all the tips and tricks to help you make these easy sugared cranberries this season!
Sugared Cranberries. I’m sure you’ve seen them before adorned on beautiful cheese plates or topped on winter themed cakes. Maybe even skewered and served along side a festive cocktail.
You catch my drift. Sugared cranberries are a holiday staple making everything look and feel more festive. Did you also know that they are incredibly easy to make, too?
I will admit, these sugared cranberries do take some advance preparation as there are a few drying times that need to happen. However, they are so simple and take minimal effort. Believe me, they’re worth it this holiday season!
If you haven’t seen sugared cranberries before, you’re in for a sweet treat.. literally! Sugared cranberries are raw cranberries that have been steeped in a simple syrup and then rolled in granulated sugar. That’s it!
Are Sugared Cranberries Edible?
When I first saw sugared cranberries years ago, I didn’t know you could eat them. I really thought they were all for show. Seriously.
But you can in fact eat sugared cranberries! If you’ve ever eaten a raw cranberry before then you might understand my initial hesitation. Raw cranberries are crunchy and incredibly tart.
However, when you soak raw cranberries in a simple syrup (which is really just sugar and water) and then roll them in more sugar… you get that awesome sweet and tart combination that everyone loves.
So while these sugared cranberries make for a beautiful presentation on cakes, cupcakes, cheese boards and cocktails, they are also amazing for holiday snacking, too! They actually taste a bit like a sweet and sour candy. Snappy and crunchy with a sugared outer shell and a tart center. Holiday perfection!
How to Make Sugared Cranberries
I promise making sugared cranberries is quite simple. As I previously mentioned, it does take some advance preparation because you need to let the cranberries dry multiple times to get that beautiful crystalized look.
You want to use fresh raw cranberries in this recipe. I haven’t tried it before with frozen cranberries so I can’t say for sure that it would or would not work with those.
First, you start by making a simple syrup, which is equal parts sugar and water. Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan on the stove and heat until the sugar dissolves into the water. Then bring to a simmer and let cook a few minutes.
Remove the simple syrup from the heat and let cool for at least 15 minutes. This is KEY! You know when you’re making cranberry sauce and you place the cranberries in the hot sugar water mixture on the stove? What happens?
The cranberries POP! You don’t want that to happen here. You want the cranberries to stay in tact so they can become beautiful crystalized sugar cranberry babies. So let the simple syrup cool and then add the cranberries to the pot and stir to completely cover them with the simple syrup.
I like to let my cranberries soak for about 30 minutes in the simple syrup so I know they’re all up in that syrupy goodness. Then, remove the cranberries from the saucepan with a slotted spoon and let dry on a wire rack for at least an hour until the cranberries are dry, but tacky.
In batches, you’ll roll the tacky cranberries in granulated sugar until they’re completely covered. Then, you need to let them dry again for 1-2 hours, until they are completely dry.
As you can see.. the steps are SO simple but the various drying times do take a bit of patience. I recommend doing this project while watching a holiday movie on TV. You can easily complete the steps during the commercials.
How Long Do Sugared Cranberries Last?
If you’re wondering how long these sugared cranberries last so you can prepare ahead then you’re my kind of person! I’m always wondering what I can complete ahead of time so I can be on my holiday A-game.
You can keep these sugar cranberries in an airtight container for about a week before they start wilting. Just keep in a cool place. They’ll also keep in the refrigerator for a few days, but some of the sugar tends to melt a bit that way. Still tasty, though!
Tips and Tricks for Making Perfect Sugared Cranberries
- As any recipe using fresh cranberries, you should wash them first. Then sift through and discard any cranberries that aren’t firm to the touch. If they’re squishy or discolored then toss those ones out.
- Place a piece of parchment paper below the wire rack to catch any simple syrup drops while the cranberries are drying. Can you say easy cleanup?
- Speaking of simple syrup, don’t let the simple syrup go to waste. After removing cranberries with a slotted spoon, reserve the remaining simple syrup for another recipe. Simple syrup is great for sweetening coffee or cocktails and also for soaking cakes and cupcakes!
- Depending on the look you want, you can use different types of sugar. I used regular granulated sugar because I like that big sparkly crystals look that you get, even if it does create some bare spots. However, you can also process granulated sugar in your food processor to get a finer sugar that covers the cranberries better but doesn’t give it as shiny of a look in my opinion.
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- 1 cup granulated sugar (for rolling)
- In a small saucepan, combine granulated sugar and water. Heat over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sugar is completely dissolved.
- Bring to a simmer and let cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let cool at least 15 minutes.
- Pour the cranberries into the simple syrup and stir to completely coat. Let soak for about 30 minutes.
- Then remove cranberries with a slotted spoon and let dry on a wire rack with a piece of parchment paper under it to catch any drops of simple syrup. Let dry for an hour or until cranberries are dry to the touch but tacky.
- Place 1 cup of granulated sugar in a bowl, plate or small baking sheet. In batches, roll cranberries in the granulated sugar until completely covered. Repeat with remaining cranberries. Let dry for at least an hour, or until completely dry to the touch.
- Reserve leftover simple syrup for another recipe. It's great for sweetening cocktails, soaking cakes and cupcakes and flavoring coffee!
- Place a piece of parchment paper underneath your wire rack for easy cleanup so that it can catch all of the simple syrup drops.