Sparkling Cranberries
Yield: 2 cups
Two simple ingredients create a stunning garnish for holiday desserts, cheese plates, or cocktails. For an unusual sweet-tart snack, these glimmering cranberries may be eaten as is. For a unique salad addition, use them in place of dried cranberries—especially a salad that includes blue cheese!


  • 2 cups or one (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup (192g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (227g) water
  • ¾ cup (144g) additional granulated or sanding sugar for rolling (see notes)




  1. Rinse and drain the cranberries, and discard any damaged or squishy ones. Place in a bowl and set aside.

    Combine the 1 cup granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and allow the simple syrup to cool for 5-10 minutes. Pour the mixture over the cranberries in the bowl. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

    Drain the cranberries in a colander over a bowl, reserving the steeping liquid, if desired. (The syrup will be infused with cranberry flavor and is delicious in lemonade, cocktails, etc.) Spread them out on a cooling rack (placed over a baking sheet or foil to catch the drips), and let dry for an hour. You want the cranberries to be tacky but not wet. (This helps the sugar to stick to the berries without clumping.)

    Place the ¾ cup sugar in a zip-top plastic bag—a paper bag works well, too. Add the cranberries, and gently shake to coat them with the sugar. Spread the sugared cranberries in a single layer on a baking sheet, and let stand at room temperature for one hour or until dry.

    Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to a week. Use as a garnish or a snack. (Taste-wise, they are tart-sweet and still have a crunch to them. They are meant to keep their structure rather than soften during the soaking process.)


Originally, I found that superfine or sanding sugar was better for achieving an evenly coated, glistening cranberry. However, once I allowed them to dry on a rack for an hour after draining, I found that plain old granulated sugar worked well. If the cranberries are tossed with the sugar immediately after draining, there is still a lot of liquid clinging to them, and this makes the granulated sugar especially clumpy.

If you prefer the finer look of sanding or superfine sugar, you can create your own by briefly processing or blending granulated sugar. Don’t blend too long, however, or you will end up with powdered sugar. (see photo below recipe)

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