I'm sure you have heard of craisins, right? Well, they are super easy to make at home by dehydrating cranberries. The process is very easy, but there are some things that I've learned while testing over 10 batches and I will share them all with you so that you can make dehydrated cranberries and get the texture that you like.
I have played around with temperatures and timing and there are two different methods for making your own dried cranberries that I find the best. The first method gives you the results of a typical craisin. Soft and a little chewy. The second method results in slightly crunchy dried cranberries that pop and dissolve in your mouth when you eat them.
I stumbled across the second method quite by accident when testing the original recipe and then had to make several batches to achieve the same texture again and it was worth every second spent because they are my favorite. It's so hard to describe the texture because it's not quite like anything else, but Jeff says it reminds him of the dehydrated fruit in cereal that has a crunch. So good!
Ingredients & Substitutions
There really isn't any substitution for fresh cranberries in this recipe, unless you wanted to try using small grapes or some other type of berry like blueberries.
I don't recommend using canned whole cranberries because they are usually in a sauce and wouldn't work well for this recipe. You can, however, use frozen cranberries which is what I did. Every year around Thanksgiving I buy bags and bags of fresh cranberries on sale and I pop the entire bag into the freezer for use throughout the year when it's harder to find them.
I used white sugar in this recipe, but you can absolutely use a sugar substitute. I've tested the recipe with Swerve in a 1:1 ratio to the amount of sugar in the recipe and it worked great. I do think the crunch was a little better on the cranberries done with regular sugar, but all the batches were wonderful.
You can also skip any kind of sweetener, but the cranberries are going to be very tart. I started out using ¼ cup of sugar per bag of cranberries and that batch was tart! I still enjoyed them on my yogurt, but they were too tart for Jeff. I think ½ cup of sugar is just the right amount, but if you like super sweet cranberries, then you will want to add more.
I used a little Avocado oil to toss the cranberries in so the sugar would stick and coat them. I also think it helps produce the crunch when making the crunchy version. If you are skipping the sugar and don't care about the crunch, you can absolutely skip the oil.
Uses for Dried Cranberries
- Use them as a yogurt topping
- Add them to hot or cold cereal
- Make Quinoa Granola
- Add them to salads
- Add them to chocolate chip cookies
- Snack on them as-is!
How to Dehydrate Cranberries for Homemade Craisins
You can use thawed or frozen cranberries in this recipe. Rinse the cranberries and remove any that are shriveled or look like they are going bad. Pat them dry.
Put the cranberries into a mixing bowl and add 1 Tablespoon of avocado oil or olive oil. Toss to coat.
Add in ¼ cup of sugar (you can certainly add more if you like) or sugar substitute (1:1 ratio for regular sugar is best) of your choice. I have made the recipe with Swerve and it turned out great. Toss the cranberries in the sugar.
Line your dehydrating tray with parchment paper and dump the cranberries onto the tray. Spread them out.
Bake in the oven on 450℉/232℃ for 15 minutes. This will burst the cranberries so they release their juices and will dehydrate evenly. You can also blanche them in boiling water but, if you do that, add the oil and sugar after blanching and drying them.
Remove them from the oven and toss them around in the juices. This will coat them with the sugar syrup.
Set the dehydrator or oven temperature to 150℉/65℃ and dehydrate for 12-16 hours. This temperature will result in chewy cranberries very much like craisins.
Allow to cool before placing dried cranberries in an airtight container for storing.
How to Dehydrate Cranberries with a Crunchier Texture
This is my preferred method because I love the texture of the crunchy cranberries! Not all of them will be crunchy, so it's a good balance between the craisin-like texture and crunchier ones.
The prep is exactly the same as noted above. The only difference is you increase the temperature to 180℉/80℃ and dehydrate for at least 12 hours.
Frequently Asked Questions
While it's common for recipes to call for blanching the cranberries before dehydrating them, I found another method that is easier.
The reason for blanching is to pop open the outer skin of the cranberry. If you don't do this, the cranberries will take forever to dehydrate because the skin prevents the loss of moisture.
What I found worked best is to bake the cranberries on a tray in the oven. I toss the cranberries in sugar and then bake them at 450℉/230℃ for about 15 minutes.
Yes! You can make as many batches as you can fit in your dehydrator.
When dehydrated properly, the dried cranberries can be stored at room temperature in airtight containers for 6-12 months.
You can also store them in the freezer or the refrigerator in airtight containers.
Ninja Oven Recipes
In this recipe I used my Ninja Foodi Digital Air Fry Oven which makes the BEST dehydrator in my opinion. I also love using it for these delicious recipes!
Dehydrated Cranberries Recipe
- Dehydrator or oven
- 12 ounces fresh or frozen whole cranberries
- 1 Tablespoon avocado or olive oil
- ¼ cup white granulated sugar
- Wash and dry cranberries. This can be done even if they are frozen, just pat dry with paper towels. Place cranberries in a medium size mixing bowl.12 ounces fresh or frozen whole cranberries
- Line your dehydrator rack with parchment paper. If you are using a dehydrator where the racks are not oven safe, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Toss the cranberries with the oil and then add the sugar and toss again to coat the cranberries with sugar.1 Tablespoon avocado or olive oil, ¼ cup white granulated sugar
- Dump the cranberries on to the parchment lined tray and make sure they are in a single layer. Place the tray in an oven at 450℉/230℃ and bake for 15 minutes. Remove and toss the cranberries around in the juices.
- Place the tray of cranberries into an oven or dehydrator and set the temperature to 150℉/65℃ and the time for 14 hours. The cranberries will take anywhere from 12-16 hours to fully dehydrate and the result will be chewy cranberries very similar to Craisins. *See recipe notes if you want crunchier cranberries.
- Allow the dried cranberries to cool completely before storing them in an airtight container.
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
She published her first cookbook in the Fall of 2018 and is very interested in writing several more.
Louise is also the creator of an online Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooking Course with over 100 instructional step-by-step videos. People absolutely rave about the course and all the value they have received from it.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can. Get more Information about Louise & contact information
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