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Sugared Cranberry Cupcakes

Sugared Cranberry Cupcakes – An elegant treat perfect for the holidays! Classic vanilla cupcakes with fresh cranberries mixed in and topped with a simple buttercream frosting and sugared cranberries.

Sugared Cranberry Cupcakes

While I think that cranberry is a flavor that is great all year, I definitely make sure that those little red berries make it onto my holiday baking list every year in cookies, sauces, and of course, cupcakes! These cupcakes were inspired by sugared cranberries, the beautiful treat that tops so many amazing holiday desserts. While there are a lot of steps to these cupcakes, they are worth it as they are both impressive and delicious with the perfect balance of sweet and tangy. Trust me, you can (and should!) do it!

Common Questions About Making Sugared Cranberry Cupcakes

What are sugared cranberry cupcakes?

Sugared cranberry cupcakes are classic vanilla cupcakes with fresh cranberries mixed in and topped with a simple buttercream frosting and sugared cranberries.

How many cupcakes does this recipe make?

This recipe makes 12 cupcakes.

How long do these cupcakes last?

These cupcakes last up to 3 days when stored in a refrigerated airtight container.

What other holiday cupcakes can I make?

Try out my gingerbread cupcakes!

How can I make the perfect cupcakes?

  • Follow the recipe – While I totally understand dietary restrictions, if you plan on making changes to the ingredients, I cannot guarantee the recipe will work.  If you are facing this problem, I will gently suggest that you may want to consider finding a cupcake recipe on a site that specifically develops for the diet you are on such as a keto baking website or vegan baking website.  Too many times have I seen recipes for wrong for people because they started to adjust the recipe too much.
  • Don’t over-mix the cupcakes – If you want to keep cupcakes light and airy, avoiding over-mixing is key.  Mix until just barely combined.
  • Let the cupcakes completely cool before frosting – This is a classic mistake that people constantly make (including me).  Your cupcakes are done baking, you are ready to sit down and eat one so you touch the cupcake and say “this is most definitely cool” even though it’s only been out of the oven for like, 5 minutes.  Wrong.  Your frosting will just slide off the cupcake and it’ll be really sad.  To be safe, I’d say give them 1-2 hours before frosting.
  • Don’t over fill the cupcake liners – If you overfill the cupcake liners, you will definitely have some overflow which isn’t pretty and elegant.  Stick to filling each liner about 3/4 full.
  • Spin the cupcake tin halfway through cooking – An oven’s heat is generally not terribly even so a simple way to make sure all of the cupcakes cook all the way through is to spin the pan about 1/2 way through baking 180 degrees.

Ingredient Notes –

  • Sugar is used a few different ways in this recipe! It sweetens the cupcakes, but it also creates a syrup to help the plain granulated sugar to stick to the cranberries in the “sugared” cranberries.
  • Water helps the sugar dissolve in the syrup to create the sugared cranberries.
  • Fresh cranberries add a delicious tartness to the cupcakes.
  • Milk adds moisture to the cupcakes so they aren’t too dry.
  • Vegetable oil adds richness which also helps keep the cupcakes moist.
  • Eggs bind the cupcakes together so they don’t crumble apart after they’re baked.
  • Vanilla enhances the sweetness in the cupcakes and buttercream and adds a classic vanilla flavor.
  • Flour gives the cupcakes structure – make sure to measure using the spoon and level method as adding too much flour can make the cupcakes dry.
  • Baking powder helps the cupcakes rise in the oven.
  • Butter is the base of the frosting – it adds delicious flavor and helps ensure that the frosting isn’t too dry. Make sure the butter is fully softened so you don’t end up with lumps.
  • Powdered sugar is another key ingredient in the buttercream – it gives structure and sweetness to the frosting. Feel free to add a bit more or a bit less than 2 1/4 cups to get your preferred piping consistency.

Looking for more holiday recipes? Check these out!

Yield: 12 Cupcakes

Cranberry Cupcakes

Cranberry Cupcakes

Sugared Cranberry Cupcakes - An elegant treat perfect for the holidays! Classic vanilla cupcakes with fresh cranberries mixed in and topped with a simple buttercream frosting and sugared cranberries.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes


For the Sugared Cranberries

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

For the Cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup small fresh cranberries

For the Buttercream

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


For the Sugared Cranberries

  1. Add the water and 1/2 cup granulated sugar to a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Cook until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Remove the pan from heat and add the cranberries. Toss to combine.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cranberries from the syrup and place them on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet.
  4. Allow the cranberries to dry for 45 minutes.
  5. Then, sprinkle over the remaining cup of sugar and toss the cranberries until they are coated evenly. Allow them to set for an additional 45 minutes before using.

For the Cupcakes

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line 12 muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla.
  3. Add the sugar and whisk to combine.
  4. Next, add the flour and baking powder. Mix just until no large lumps of flour remain.
  5. Then, add the fresh cranberries and fold them gently into the batter.
  6. Divide the cake batter between the muffin tins, filling each one with about 1/4 cup of batter.
  7. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Remove the cupcakes to a wire rack and cool completely before frosting.

For the Buttercream

  1. Add the softened butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until the butter is smooth - about 30 seconds.
  2. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the powdered sugar.
  3. Once all of the powdered sugar has been incorporated, add the vanilla extract.
  4. Turn the mixer to high speed and beat for 1-2 minutes, or until the frosting is light and fluffy.
  5. Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag and frost the cooled cupcakes as desired. Garnish with sugared cranberries and serve.
  6. Store any leftover cupcakes in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.

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