Sugared cranberries are the perfect holiday treat! Simply soak fresh cranberries in an aromatic orange and cinnamon syrup coat in superfine sugar. Enjoy this candied fruit as a snack, decorate festive holiday cakes, or use them to add edible sparkle to your holiday cookie tray. This sugared cranberry recipe so, so easy! You're going to love them!

an overhead photo of sugared cranberries in a serving bowl with a spoon next to a cloth napkin and two drinks.
Photo Credits: Ali Redmond

You’re probably thinking, since when are cranberries Mediterranean? The answer is they are not, but enjoying fruit as dessert is very common in these seaside countries and when it comes to blending Mediterranean culture with North American kitchens, this Sugared Cranberry recipe fits right in! 

Candying cranberries is right up there with other natural treats like Candied Orange Peels or even Chocolate Covered Dates. The candied fruit takes center stage while the sugar is a background note. I have been making sugared cranberries for close to 25 years and they are requested by friends and family every year!

The sugar in this recipe is used to make a soaking syrup. I add orange peel and a cinnamon stick for some extra spice and flavor. The soaking syrup is strained off, and then the cranberries are rolled in a glittery dusting of superfine sugar. The tartness from the cranberries combined with the light coating of sugar makes for a naturally sweet and tart treat.

Use these glistening wonders as a simple snack, an edible adornment to your holiday cookie tray, or as a topping for desserts like Olive Oil Chocolate Mousse or another creamy and spoonable favorite, Crema Catalana

Table of Contents
  1. Ingredients for Sugared Cranberries 
  2. How to Make Sugared Cranberries
  3. How to Make Superfine Sugar
  4. Ways to Season Sugared Cranberries 
  5. How to Use the Soaking Syrup 
  6. How to Store and Use Candied Fruit 
  7. Sweet Treats That Look as Good as They Taste 
  8. Sugared Cranberries Recipe
ingredients for sugared cranberries including fresh cranberries, an orange, granulated sugar, water, a cinnamon stick and superfine sugar.


Ingredients for Sugared Cranberries 

The ingredient list for the sugared cranberries recipe is pretty short. You only need 3—sugar, cranberries and superfine sugar. The other two ingredients—orange peel and a cinnamon stick are entirely optional, but a lovely addition nonetheless, especially if you keep the leftover syrup to spruce up your sparkling water. 

  • Fresh cranberries: This bright red North American holiday staple is incredibly tart, which is why a long soak in spiced sugar syrup is necessary to tame its sharp edge. 
  • Granulated sugar: Combines with water to make a simple syrup. 
  • Orange (optional): This sweet citrus is a natural pairing to cranberries. Just the outer zest is all you need. Make sure to leave as much of the white pith behind. 
  • Cinnamon stick (optional): Orange and cinnamon is one of my absolute favorite flavor combinations. Cinnamon is a holiday essential in my home. 
  • Superfine sugar: Superfine sugar is also called Baker's Sugar. The size of the sugar granules are somewhere between granulated sugar and powdered sugar. You can usually find it at most well-stocked grocery stores. If you skip the superfine sugar, you can still coat the cranberries in granulated sugar, but it won’t stick as well or look as sparkly. You can also make superfine sugar at home. I have instructions on how to do that later on in the article.
sugared cranberries spread evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.


How to Make Sugared Cranberries

When it comes to making sugared cranberries pay attention to two things. First, don’t add the cranberries to the simple syrup when it’s super hot because they will pop. Second, drain the cranberries well before you sugar them, but don't let them dry out so you have a nice even coating. Candied fruit is easy to make and if you have littles at home, sugaring is their favorite part! 

  • Prepare fruit: Rinse and sort the cranberries, tossing any that are shriveled or broken. Set aside. Use a vegetable peeler to remove strips of orange peel from the orange. Take care not to get any of the white pith. You just want the outer orange zest. Set aside and save the orange for another time or use it to make this Challah French Toast with Orange Honey Syrup.
  • Make the simple syrup: Set a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar, water, orange peel, and cinnamon stick. Let it come to a simmer, stirring occasionally until all the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let it cool for about 5 minutes. an overhead photo of the orange peel and cinnamon stick after being added to the simmering simple syrup in a saucepan.
  • Add the cranberries: Add the cranberries to the simple syrup stir then transfer everything – orange peel, cinnamon stick, cranberries and simple syrup – to a container or bowl. The cranberries might float up; if you need you can weigh them down with a dish. Cover and put in the fridge for at least 8 hours and up to 24. 
  • Drain: Place ¾ cup superfine sugar on a rimmed baking sheet and line a second baking sheet with parchment. Remove the cranberries from the fridge and if you weighed them down with a plate or dish remove that. Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and drain the cranberries. Reserve the liquid to use in cocktails or to flavor sparkling water, it will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks. the cranberries, orange peel and cinnamon stick being drained in a mesh strainer placed over a bowl next to a baking sheet containing the superfine sugar and a few cranberries, already coated.
  • Sugar the berries: Give the berries a good shake then use a slotted spoon to transfer them one spoonful at a time to the sugared baking sheet. Shake the baking sheet back and forth to coat the berries.  sugared cranberries spread evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Dry the sugared berries: Once coated, use your fingers to transfer the sugared berries to the parchment lined baking sheet. Make sure the berries don’t touch. Repeat the process until all the berries have been sugared. Let dry at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes. Then transfer to an airtight container and store in a cool dry place. The sugared cranberries will keep for up to a week, but they are best within 2 to 3 days. Snack on them, decorate your cookie tray, use them to decorate cakes, cupcakes and cocktails. sugared cranberries in a serving bowl with a spoon next to a cloth napkin, an orange and 2 cinnamon sticks.


How to Make Superfine Sugar

If you don’t have superfine or baker’s sugar at your house, never fear! Just place granulated sugar in a food processor and pulse 6 ot 8 times checking as you go. You want to reduce the size of the sugar granules so they are smaller than granulated sugar, but not so small they look like powdered sugar. It should still look like glitter.


Ways to Season Sugared Cranberries 

At its most basic you can candy fruit with just sugar and water, but why not spice things up? This sugared cranberry recipe is super easy to adapt and play with. I encourage you to make it it your own.

Keep this recipe as it is with orange and cinnamon or try any variations below: 

  • Add a few cloves, cardamom pods or allspice.
  • Get herby with it! Fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme (rosemary and orange is another favorite of mine) add another element. This is great especially if you like more savory drinks. 
  • Give it a spicy kick with fresh ginger.


How to Use the Soaking Syrup 

Adding herbs and spices to simple syrup will do wonders for your cocktail game. The syrup in this sugared cranberries recipe is loaded with flavor and it's a beautiful red color so why not put it to good use?

Once you've strained off the cranberry soaking liquid (simple syrup), store it in a ball jar or swing top bottle for up to 2 weeks in the fridge. Here are few ways to use up simple syrup.

  • Add soaking liquid to your favorite sparkling water if you're feeling fancy!
  • Add if you want to take that sparkling water concoction up a notch, add a couple of splashes of half and half to make it creamy like an Italian Soda. I used to make these all the time when I was a kid.
  • Make a vodka soda and finish it with some of the soaking water and garnish with sugared cranberries and sprig of rosemary for the holidays
  • Make a special Valentines drink by adding a little soaking syrup to the bottom of a champagne flute and topping it off with your favorite bottle of bubbly.
  • If you've made a cake and it needs some added moisture drizzle or brush each layer with this soaking syrup.
a close up of sugared cranberries in a serving bowl.


How to Store and Use Candied Fruit 

I always told my kids these sugared cranberries are nature’s sour patch kids and for a time they believed me. The sweet on the outside, tart on the inside fruit is a lovely snack when you have a craving for something sweet.

But they also add a festive touch when skewered through a cocktail pick and set atop a drink. Or dotting the top of a cheesecake, rich and luscious chocolate mousse, custardy creme catalan or holiday cookie tray. 

Store in an airtight container on your counter for about 3 days. They are edible for up to a week, but the sugar coating might start to weep. Sugar is hygroscopic, meaning it can absorb water from the air. After 2 or 3 days or if you’re in a place with high humidity the cranberries outer sugar shell will begin to soften.

a bowl of sugared cranberries with a spoon next to a jar containing an orange peel and the cinnamon stick in simple syrup in a jar.

Sweet Treats That Look as Good as They Taste 

Browse all Mediterranean recipes.

Visit Our Shop

Get The Mediterranean Dish Cookbook

 More than 120 recipes for bright and flavorful Mediterranean diet-inspired meals.

Cover for cookbook
5 from 1 vote

Sugared Cranberries

Summer Miller
sugared cranberries in a serving bowl with a spoon next to a cloth napkin.
When it comes to healthyish holiday treats these sweet tart sugared cranberries are at the top of my list to make every year. They are delightfully snackable and so easy to make. They only take 15 minutes of hands-on time, but make sure you plan ahead for the overnight soak.
Prep – 15 minutes
Cook – 5 minutes
Soaking Time 8 hours
Cuisine:
American, American/Mediterranean
Serves – 12 people, as a treat
Course:
Dessert

Ingredients
  

  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 1 orange (optional)
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
  • ¾ cup superfine sugar

Instructions
 

  • Prepare fruit: Rinse and sort the cranberries tossing any that are shriveled or broken. Set aside. Use a vegetable peeler to remove strips of orange peel from the orange. Take care not to get any of the white pith. You just want the outer orange peel. Set aside and save the orange for another time.
  • Make the simple syrup: Set a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar, water, orange peel, and cinnamon stick. Let it come to a simmer, stirring occasionally until all the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat.
  • Add the cranberries: Add the cranberries to the simple syrup stir then transfer everything – orange peel, cinnamon stick, cranberries and simple syrup to a container or bowl. The cranberries might float up if you need to weigh them down with a dish. Cover and put in the fridge for at least 8 hours and up to 24.
  • Sugar the berries: Place ¾ cup superfine sugar on a baking sheet and line a second baking sheet with parchment. Remove the cranberries from the fridge and if you weighed them down with a plate or dish remove that. Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl, and drain the cranberries. Reserve the liquid to use in cocktails or to flavor sparkling water, it will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks. Give the berries a good shake then use a slotted spoon to transfer them one spoonful at a time to the sugared baking sheet. Shake the baking sheet back and forth to coat the berries.
  • Dry the sugared berries: Once coated, use your fingers to transfer the sugared berries to the parchment lined baking sheet. Make sure the berries don’t touch. Repeat the process until all the berries have been sugared. Let dry at room temperature for an hour to 90 minutes. Then transfer to an airtight container and store in a cool dry place. The sugared cranberries will keep for up to a week. Snack on them, decorate your cookie tray, use them to decorate cakes, cupcakes and cocktails.

Notes

  • Allow the simple syrup to cool for just a few seconds off the heat before stirring in the cranberries–this will prevent them from popping.
  • Drain them well before you sugar them so you have a nice even coating.
  • Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oils, honey, jams, and spices.

Nutrition

Calories: 39.3kcalCarbohydrates: 10.2gProtein: 0.1gFat: 0.1gSaturated Fat: 0.003gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.01gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.005gSodium: 1.8mgPotassium: 20.7mgFiber: 1gSugar: 8.2gVitamin A: 15.3IUVitamin C: 3.4mgCalcium: 5.3mgIron: 0.1mg
Tried this recipe?

Share it with the world

Summer Miller is an award-winning cookbook author, journalist, and an IACP finalist in essay writing and memoir. Her recipes, food writing, and editing chops span both print and digital media. You can find her work at Simply Recipes, Eating Well, Saveur, Bon Appétit, and the Kitchn among others. She is the Senior Executive Editor at The Mediterranean Dish.
Learn More

Get our best recipes and all Things Mediterranean delivered to your inbox.
5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How many stars would you give this recipe?




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. Den M. says:

    would frozen thawed cranberries work here or do they have to be fresh, never frozen?

    1. Summer Miller says:

      Hi, Den! I'm Summer and I work here with Suzy at The Mediterranean Dish. I recommend using fresh cranberries. Frozen then thawed could pop and that's not what you want. Fresh is best.