Sugared Berries are really easy to make and add a special pizazz to any dessert. You only need three ingredients and I love to use them to decorate cakes, cupcakes, cheesecakes, and more! My kids also love to just pop them in their mouths for a snack!
Originally posted March 2021, updated March 2022
A few years ago I made this Sugared Berries Winter Wedding Cake and had several people ask me about how I made the sugared berries. I never shared because honestly, the sugared berries were kind of a fail.
The bride was so kind and just a doll and she never complained but I was sad and disappointed. If you look closely at the cake, there really wasn't much sugar left on any of the berries by the time I finished setting up. 😭
Was the cake still beautiful? Absolutely! Or at least I thought so. But it wasn't what I (or probably she) had envisioned.
Easy Sugared Berries
So anyway... until recently, I hadn't made sugared berries again. But then a client asked for another "sugared berries" wedding cake and I knew I wanted to do better this time!
In preparation, I read dozens of recipes/blog posts and practiced a couple of times before the wedding weekend to make sure I could pull it off. In the end, I was SO happy with how well they turned out. But it still wasn't perfect.
And after I shared this cake (above) on my Facebook page, the questions started rolling in again about how to make the sugared berries. So I decided to write it up and share.
You seriously only need three ingredients to make this easy recipe.
- Fruit (berries, grapes, etc.) - see this section below with details about the types of fruit.
- Pasteurized egg whites - It's important that you use the pasteurized egg whites to prevent any food poisoning risk. I buy them in a carton next to the regular eggs at my grocery store or big box store.
- Sugar - I prefer and usually use granulated sugar. Course or fine sugar would also work. The only kind I'd warn against is powdered sugar - it would quickly be absorbed into the egg whites.
Tools & Equipment Needed:
Fruits for Sugar Berries
I've made strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and grapes. You could also do larger fruits, like pears and apples to use as centerpieces on your table or cranberries for Christmas, but today, let's stick to berries.
Raspberries are the primary berries that gave me trouble. They were pretty at first but quickly began to seep juices and get extremely soft and squishy. This is because they ripen faster than most fruits so their lifespan as "sugared berries" is much shorter.
Sugared Blueberries & Sugared Grapes
On the flip side, sugared blueberries and sugared grapes seemed to hold up the best. They have a thick outer skin that keeps the sugar separate from the juices for a long time and prevents them from seeping. I imagine the same could be said for sugared cranberries.
Sugared strawberries were somewhere in between the raspberries and the blueberries. They held up just fine for several hours (much longer than the raspberries) but eventually, they did begin to break down faster than the blueberries and grapes.
How to Make Easy Sugared Berries
With that in mind - let me show you how easy it is!
- First, you're going to want to plan ahead. You need to gently rinse your berries and let them air dry. You could do this the night before or a few hours ahead. Either way, the berries need to be clean, dry, and at room temperature.
- Pour the egg whites into a small bowl, then whisk to break them up. This prevents the egg whites from being stringy.
- Next, dip the berries in the egg whites. Make sure to turn them and make sure they're completely covered. You could also brush on the egg white but you're more likely to get the best coverage by dipping them.
- Next, roll the fruit in sugar. Again, use your fingers or tongs... whichever you prefer. I only add a small amount of sugar to the bowl, then toss it and get more if it gets too clumpy.
- Dip them again, if needed. You may have to dip the fruit twice to get a good coating. Sometimes the first layer of sugar will "disappear" into the egg white and you'll need more for it to be easily seen.
- Remove the berries from the sugar and place them on parchment paper or a wire rack to dry. Some berries will seep juices so I like to put my wire rack over a cookie sheet to catch any juices.
- Then let the berries dry for at least 8 hours or overnight. By morning, the berries are ready to use!!
Sugared berries are one of the simplest desserts to make but are very temperamental and time-sensitive. Just keep that in mind if you plan to use them for a wedding cake or other event that requires working ahead!
Note: I usually do strawberries one at a time, but you could easily put a few grapes or blueberries in and use tongs to turn them and get them completely covered.
Wanna see me making them? Watch the video below:
As I mentioned above, I used plain granulated sugar. But you could use almost any kind of sugar... sanding sugar, superfine or fine sugar, or coarse sugar. I would not recommend powdered sugar because it would dissolve so easily.
Have you ever had macerated strawberries? This is a process by which you sprinkle sugar onto cut strawberries and then let them sit for at least half an hour. The sugar then draws the water out of the berries forming a sweet syrup that makes them perfect for use on Strawberry Shortcake or Vanilla Ice Cream.
When making sugared berries, it's the same concept. However, the egg whites create a barrier that prevents this for a little while. But the longer they rest, the more the fruit will begin to break down, and eventually, the sugar will start to pull the juices out.
On the cakes I've made in the past couple of months, I decided to make the berries the night before the event (and no sooner!), then wait and put the berries on just before pickup or delivery. The less time the berries are on the cake, the less chance they'll begin to seep juices.
Even still... with the wedding cake above, the raspberries had started to seep juices down the side of the cake within an hour. You can see it in the pic below if you look closely.
I'm often asked if Sugared Berries can be saved or made ahead of time. As I've already mentioned, the answer is "no" with this recipe. Sugared berries begin to ooze juices and break down very quickly so they're best made and used within 12 hours.
Frosted Berries for Cake Decorating
When I'm assembling cakes, I almost always finish them at home the night before, chill the cake all night, and then transport them completely finished. But as I mentioned above, that didn't work out so great with my first sugared berries wedding cake.
With that first cake, I made the berries too far ahead, then set up the cake a few hours before the reception. By the time I was leaving the venue, the sugar had almost completely disappeared and the fruit was dripping.
So if you're going to use this recipe for berry cake decoration, save this task for as late as you can!
So... while cake decoration with berries is beautiful - they're not practical for all applications or uses. Just keep that in mind! I had to learn this the hard way with that first big wedding cake.
I didn't realize until I was editing pictures of this last wedding cake that I had captured the juice issue in some of the darker images. The raspberries, in particular, were already making syrup and it was dripping down the front of the cake.
Thank goodness, it wasn't super obvious and this reception was starting immediately after I delivered the cake and the family didn't seem bothered by it at all.
There are so many ways to enjoy these berries. In addition to using them as decorations on cakes, here are some other ideas of desserts to garnish with them:
- Cheesecakes (or these Cheesecake Cups)
- Petit Fours
- Or on a bowl or platter for a table centerpiece.
More Recipes with Fruit
Are you ready for the printable recipe? Here you go...Print