Sugared Cranberries

A sparkling addition to cakes, drinks, and more.

Sparkling cranberries on white background

Antonis Achilleos; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Stylist: Lydia Pursell

Active Time:
20 mins
Stand Time:
2 hrs
Chill Time:
8 hrs
Total Time:
10 hrs 20 mins
1 cup

If you were stranded on a desert island, sugared cranberries wouldn’t be on your wish list, right? They serve no actual practical purpose.

But where’s the fun in living your life thinking like a marooned sailor? Some things are just for fun—and sparkling cranberries are one such thing.

These tiny, ruby-red edible disco balls are incredibly simple to make, yet they add remarkable flair to anything they rest upon, from desserts to drinks and more!

How Do You Make Sugared Cranberries?

You won’t believe how easy it is to make these cuties. Simply heat up some maple syrup, stir in some cranberries (off the heat, you don’t want them to burst!) and then let them sit for a bit (at least 8 and up to 24 hours). Next, you let them drain (reserve that syrup for cocktails or pancakes, please!) then roll them in sparkling sugar, and let them dry for a few hours. And that’s it, folks!

What Do You Do with Sugared Cranberries

Basically, you make things more awesome. The technical term is “more aesthetically pleasing,” but let’s face it—awesome is better. Here are a few ways to use these sparkling edible orbs of holiday joy:

Crown a layer cake

Frosted layer cakes are a dime a dozen; top one with sparkling cranberries and watch folks oooh and ahhh! This Gingerbread Cake With Cranberry Frosting is the perfect example.

Gingerbread cake with cranberry-vanilla frosting on white cake stand

Antonis Achilleos; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Stylist: Lydia Pursell

Punch up a pie

Whether it’s apple, pear, cranberry, or even pumpkin, a whipped cream or meringue-topped pie is just “meh” until you invite sparkling cranberries to the party. All of the sudden it’s like Beyoncé came in and put a ring on it, y’all.

Dress up a drink

OK, so this may sound a little crazy, but hear me out. Did you know that cranberries float? Yep. So why not drop a few cranberries in your holiday punch, your morning mimosa, or your Old Fashioned? Sure, the sugar will gradually slide off, but you’ll make a big impression before it does!

Wait, There’s More!

Sugared cranberries make the perfect garnish for a buche de Noel; they’re also a great way to spruce up a basic Bundt cake. You can sprinkle them over pancakes and waffles to transform them from plain Jane to magical; add them to a platter of carved ham with some rosemary sprigs for an extra-festive garnish. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

So, what are you waiting for? Make a batch or two of these sparkling beauties and let your imagination run wild—they’re the perfect tool for transforming anything from run-of-the-mill to merry and bright!


  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup

  • 1 cup fresh cranberries

  • 1/2 cup granulated or sparkling sugar


  1. Cook maple syrup in a small saucepan over medium-low until just hot, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in fresh cranberries. Cover and chill 8 to 24 hours.

  2. Place cranberries in a fine mesh strainer; let drain 15 minutes. Gently toss 4 or 5 cranberries at a time in granulated or sparkling sugar until completely coated. Place in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Let stand at room temperature until completely dry, 2 to 3 hours.

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