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SUGARED CRANBERRY CUPCAKES

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Sugared cranberry cupcakes are bakery favorites! Tender and buttery, they’re crowned with swirls of rich buttercream frosting and candied cranberries. Enjoy these holiday cupcakes on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

PIN CRANBERRY CUPCAKES

Cranberry cupcakes garnished with buttercream frosting, sugared cranberries plus a sprig of rosemary for a pop of color.

With an elegant presentation, these hand-held desserts are the ideal choice for potlucks and parties throughout the holiday season.

To make things easy, transport the frosted treats in a cupcake carrier or a Christmas ornament box. Once you arrive at the party, garnish them with cranberries and fresh sprigs of rosemary.

At Thanksgiving gatherings, these desserts are just as popular as traditional pies and tiramisu. On Christmas day, serve cranberry cupcakes for breakfast or brunch. Make these holiday cupcakes a family tradition!

Sugared cranberry cupcakes on a holiday serving table ready to enjoy.

INGREDIENTS

SUGARED CRANBERRIES

  • Water
  • Granulated sugar
  • Fresh cranberries
Ingredients for making sugared cranberries.

VANILLA CRANBERRY CUPCAKES

  • Whole milk
  • Vegetable oil
  • Large eggs, room temperature
  • Pure vanilla extract
  • Granulated sugar
  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh cranberries
Ingredients for cranberry cupcakes recipe.

BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

  • Salted butter, room temperature
  • Powdered sugar (confectioners sugar)
  • Pure vanilla extract
  • FOR GARNISHING: Sprigs of fresh rosemary
Ingredients for making vanilla buttercream frosting.

EASY INGREDIENT SUBSTITUTIONS

Missing an ingredient for these sugared cranberry cupcakes? Don’t put on your shoes and head to the market. Instead, head to your fridge or pantry. Check for these easy ingredient swaps.

It’s convenient and money-saving to use ingredients you already have on hand! Especially during stay-at-home times.

  • WHOLE MILK: Sub with 2% low-fat milk. You can also use half and half that’s been lightly diluted with water. If you have heavy cream on hand, use 60% cream to 40% water. Or use dairy-free vanilla milk.
  • VEGETABLE OIL: The best substitute is canola oil. Other swaps include a 1:1 substitution: melted butter or melted coconut oil.
  • ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR: Great 1:1 substitutes for this ingredient include cake flour and pastry flour.
  • PURE VANILLA EXTRACT: Use maple syrup, bourbon, brandy or amber rum.
  • BUTTER: This ingredient gives frosting structure. The best substitutes are vegetable shortening or margarine. For the filling, use margarine.
  • POWDERED SUGAR: Make your own powdered sugar from granulated sugar. Process sugar in a blender or food processor until fine and fluffy. One cup granulated sugar yields about 2 cups powdered sugar.
Five vanilla cranberry cupcakes being frosted with buttercream icing and garnishes with sugared cranberries.

RECIPE STEPS

Assemble these delicious holiday cupcakes in 3 simple phases: sugared cranberries, vanilla cranberry cupcakes, and buttercream frosting.

SUGARED CRANBERRIES

RECIPE PREP: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a reusable silicone baking mat.

  • STEP 1: In a small saucepan over medium heat, add water and granulated sugar. Stir and cook until sugar has dissolved. If desired, add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Briefly swirl the pan to incorporate the liquid.
  • STEP 2: Remove pan from heat. Add the cranberries. Toss to combine. With a slotted spoon, remove cranberries from the pan, leaving the syrup behind. Arrange them in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Let the berries dry for 45 minutes.
  • STEP 3: Transfer cranberries to a medium bowl. Sprinkle remaining sugar over the top. Toss with a spoon until all berries are evenly coated with sugar. Set the bowl aside for 45 minutes.
How to make sugared cranberries in 3 easy steps.

VANILLA CRANBERRY CUPCAKES

RECIPE PREP: Adjust oven rack to the center position. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 12-well cupcake pan with paper liners.

  • STEP 1: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together milk, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Add in the sugar. Whisk until just combined. Add flour, baking powder, and sea salt to the bowl. Mix just until no large lumps remain. Don’t over-mix, or the cranberry cupcakes will be heavy and dense.
  • STEP 2: Add fresh cranberries to the bowl. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold them into the batter.
  • STEP 3: With a 1/4 measuring cup, evenly divide the batter between the prepared wells of the cupcake pan. Bake 15 to 17 minutes, or until a cake tester (or toothpick) inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • STEP 4: Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack. Let them cool for 1 hour. It’s important to let all heat shed before frosting the little cakes.
How to make cranberry cupcakes in 4 easy steps.

BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

  • STEP 1: Gather the ingredients together. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the soften butter. Beat butter on medium speed for 30 seconds or until smooth.
  • STEP 2: Drape a lint-free kitchen towel over the stand mixer to protect your countertop. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the powdered sugar. Once it’s been fully incorporated, add the vanilla extract. Beat the frosting on high speed for 1 to 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
  • STEP 3: With a spatula, transfer the buttercream frosting to a piping bag fitted with an open star metal tip. My favorite for cranberry cupcakes: the Wilton 6B or Wilton 8B. Pipe swirls onto the surface of the cooled cupcakes leaving an unfrosted area in the center for the sparkling cranberries.
  • STEP 4: Garnish each dessert with the prepared candied cranberries. As a finishing touch, add sprigs of fresh rosemary to the top of each cupcake.
How to make vanilla buttercream frosting, and frost and garnish cranberry cupcakes in 4 easy steps.

RECIPE FAQ

These are the most commonly asked questions when making sugared cranberry cupcakes, and the most helpful answers for recipe success.

ARE FRESH CRANBERRIES SWEET OR TART?

Although fresh cranberries contain natural sugar, they’re still very tart. Most recipes, like this one, call for sugar (or other natural sweeteners) to offset that tartness.

BEST FLAVOR ADD-IN?

Orange zest. For flavorful cranberry orange cupcakes, add a sprinkling of the zest to the cupcake batter.

HOW TO PREVENT CRANBERRIES FROM SINKING DURING BAKING?

Toss the fruit in flour before adding it to the cupcake batter. This will give the batter something to grip onto, holding the small pieces of fruit in place and preventing them from sinking during baking.

HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE QUICKER?

Assemble the sugared cranberries up to 3 days in advance. They’re super simple to make, they just need time to set. Store them in an air-tight container and refrigerate. This will help speed things up on the day you’re baking and frosting the cranberry cupcakes.

MORE IDEAS FOR TOPPING CRANBERRY CUPCAKES?

Use cream cheese frosting or white chocolate buttercream. In addition to the sparkling cranberries, garnish cupcakes with thin slivers of white chocolate.

HOW TO GET FROSTING TO HOLD ITS SHAPE?

Make sure the frosting is thick yet pipeable from a decorating bag with metal tip. If needed, whip in a bit more powdered sugar until it reaches the desired thickness for structure. You can also chill the icing for 25 minutes in the fridge. Chilled frosting will pipe out into beautiful swirls.

HOW TO USE LEFTOVER CRANBERRIES?

Turn them into sugared cranberries! They add sparkle to appetizers, drinks and desserts. They also make wonderful hostess gifts during the holiday season. Add them to mason jars. Tie red/white ribbons around the lids. Or use the leftover berries for cranberry sauce.

A bite taken out of a sparkling cranberry cupcake.

MORE HOLIDAY CUPCAKE RECIPES

If you love these sugared cranberry cupcakes, then you’ll also enjoy these holiday favorites. Each is ideal for Thanksgiving and Christmas dessert. Print the recipes for later, or pin them to Pinterest.

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When these gorgeous holiday cupcakes arrive at family gatherings, everyone is so delighted! They’re the star attraction on the dessert table.

If you agree that these sugared cranberry cupcakes are fabulous, give them a 5-star rating in the comments. Then be a recipe hero! Share it with a friend.

Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com
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Cranberry cupcakes garnished with buttercream frosting, sugared cranberries plus a sprig of rosemary for a pop of color.

SUGARED CRANBERRY CUPCAKES


  • Author: Denay DeGuzman
  • Total Time: 2 Hours 5 Minutes
  • Yield: 12 Cupcakes 1x

Description

Sugared cranberry cupcakes are a welcome addition to any holiday table. They’re tender, buttery and sweet with a festive presentation.


Ingredients

Units Scale

SUGARED CRANBERRIES

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries

VANILLA CRANBERRY CUPCAKES

  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup small fresh cranberries

BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • 2 1/4 cups powdered sugar (confectioners sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

OPTIONAL GARNISH

  • Fresh rosemary

Instructions

SUGARED CRANBERRIES

RECIPE PREP: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a reusable silicone baking mat.

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add water and granulated sugar. Stir and cook until sugar has dissolved. If desired, add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Swirl the pan to incorporate the liquid.
  2. Remove pan from heat. Add the cranberries. Toss to combine. With a slotted spoon, remove cranberries from the pan, leaving the syrup behind. Arrange them in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Let the berries dry for 45 minutes.
  3. Transfer cranberries to a medium bowl. Sprinkle remaining sugar over the top. Toss with a spoon until all berries are evenly coated with sugar. Set the bowl aside for 45 minutes. 

VANILLA CRANBERRY CUPCAKES

RECIPE PREP: Adjust oven rack to the center position. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 12-well cupcake pan with paper liners.

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together milk, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Add in the sugar. Whisk until just combined. 
  2. Add flour, baking powder, and sea salt to the bowl. Mix just until no large lumps remain. Don’t over-mix, or the cakes will be heavy and dense. We want our cranberry cupcakes light and fluffy!
  3. Add fresh cranberries to the bowl. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold them into the batter. With a 1/4 measuring cup, evenly divide the batter between the prepared wells of the cupcake pan. Bake 15 to 17 minutes, or until a cake tester (or toothpick) inserted into the center comes out clean.
  4. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack. Let them cool for 1 hour. It’s important to let all heat shed before frosting the little cakes.

BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the soften butter. Beat for 30 seconds on medium speed, or until the butter is smooth. 
  2. Drape a lint-free kitchen towel over the stand mixer to protect your countertop. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the powdered sugar. Once it’s been fully incorporated, add the vanilla extract. Beat the frosting on high speed for 1 to 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
  3. With a spatula, transfer the buttercream frosting to a piping bag fitted with an open star metal tip. My favorite for cranberry cupcakes: the Wilton 6B or Wilton 8B.
  4. Garnish each dessert with sugared cranberries. As a finishing touch, add sprigs of fresh rosemary to the top of each cupcake.

Notes

HOW TO STORE LEFTOVER CUPCAKES: Transfer the cakes to an air-tight container. Store them in the fridge for up to 3 days.

WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVER CRANBERRIES: Save them for cranberry sauce, or turn them all into sugared cranberries. Use them to garnish appetizers, drinks and desserts. Or add them to mason jars for hostess gifts. Tie each lid with a red/white ribbon.

  • Prep Time: 20 Minutes
  • Rest Time: 90 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 Minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Cranberry Cupcakes, Sugared Cranberry Cupcakes, Holiday Cupcakes

Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com

CRANBERRY CUPCAKES > JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Have you ever enjoyed a sugared cranberry cupcake? Was it for Thanksgiving or Christmas? Would you like to make a batch of these holiday cupcakes for a party, potluck or gathering? Share your thoughts below!

6 thoughts on “SUGARED CRANBERRY CUPCAKES”

  1. Cup cakes are always been symol of occassion and chritsmas is about to come. so this is going to be cooked in chritsmas. thanks for sharing this.
    so nice of you always come with new ideas.

    Reply
  2. These look so lovely for Christmas! I love the sugared cranberries and rosemary decoration. So festive and delicious!

    Reply

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