Too early in spring. Too late in summer. Midwinter. We know the temptation to buy those tempting pints of raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries even when we know they’re a little–or a lot–less than perfect.

The solution is simple. Just douse the little roly-polies with simple syrup and roll them in ordinary granulated sugar. The whole process requires just a saucepan and a clean brush of some sort. The sweet little somethings that result turn even eye-twitchingly tart berries into an eye-catching embellishment for vanilla bean ice cream and coconut cake and New York-style cheesecake and, oh my, truth be told, just about anything.–Cheryl Day and Griffith Day

LC Broad Brushstrokes Note

Unlike painting the walls of your domicile, painting berries requires little exactitude and far, far less prep work. There are no worries about brushstrokes showing. No concern if a little too much dribbled off onto the carpet, er, parchment. Just paint to your heart’s content seeing as all manner of sloppiness or sin will be disguised by a sprinkling of sugar. Best yet, you can lick your fingers afterward rather than scrub them with turpentine. You’re welcome.

Various berries and fruit dipped in sugar on a sheet of parchment.

Sugar-Dipped Fruit

5 / 2 votes
We know the temptation to buy those tempting pints of raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. If you have too many or they are less than perfect, the solution is simple. Douse them in simple syrup and roll them in granulated sugar for a beautiful and tasty treat.
David Leite
Servings2 servings
Calories345 kcal
Prep Time10 minutes
Total Time10 minutes


  • A new, clean pastry or paint or watercolor brush


  • Simple syrup
  • Berries of all shapes and colors, or, come midwinter, kumquats
  • Granulated sugar


  • Let the simple syrup cool to room temperature or, if you have it stashed in the fridge, you can use it chilled.
  • Rinse the berries or kumquats and pat them dry. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour the sugar into a shallow bowl.
  • Place the fruit in a single layer on the parchment. Lightly dip your brush in the simple syrup and paint the berries, avoiding the hull portion if using strawberries. Allow any excess syrup to drip off and then roll the fruit in the sugar to evenly coat. Set the fruit aside on the parchment to dry until no longer sticky.
The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook

Adapted From

The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook

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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 345 kcalCarbohydrates: 90 gProtein: 0.3 gFat: 1 gSaturated Fat: 0.04 gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.1 gSodium: 26 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 87 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2012 Cheryl Day | Griffith Day. Photo © 2012 Squire Fox. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This is so simple that I feel almost foolish giving it a testers’ choice designation. However, with a huge amount of fresh berries on hand, I decided that this was the perfect thing to go with any of several desserts after a special outdoor dinner. Brushing the berries with the syrup, rolling them in sugar, and then drying them gives the fruit a nice, sweet crunchiness without them being too cloyingly sweet. I used fresh blueberries and freshly picked strawberries. We had planned to serve puff pastry shells with chantilly cream and were wondering what to serve on top…and this was perfect! We also had some locally made vanilla ice cream and pound cake that were wonderful topped with this. A nice change from the usual ice cream toppings and a very good summer dessert.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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  1. I want to make these tonight for cupcakes I am serving tomorrow. If i leave them on the side, will the berries hold up over night?

    1. Maddy R, I love that you’re going to heap these little lovelies on cupcakes! As for how long they will hold up, to be honest, we devoured all our berries within just a few hours when we tested the recipe. In theory, as long as your kitchen isn’t hot and humid, the sugar-dipped berries should hold up to 24 hours. But if there’s any way you could do them early tomorrow, that would be ideal. Kindly let us know how it goes!

    2. So I also want to do a some the night prior. Was wondering how these were after 24 hours?
      Someone asked if I would do this to top a wedding cake but don’t want to worry about it day of the wedding.

      1. Karen, often the juices in the fruit sorta absorb the sugar, making for a less-than-gorgeous appearance and the sugar also can draw the juices out of the fruit which can mean weeping. I completely understand your situation but I wouldn’t recommend dipping the fruit that far in advance. I think you’ll have a much less-than-stunning outcome.

  2. I used turbinado sugar (raw) on big fat blackberries….to decorate a brandy alexander cheesecake. The fatter sugar crystals kept their shape and made the berries sparkle.