In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 cup water over low heat. Stir until sugar dissolves.
Turn off heat; add cranberries. Stir until they are completely coated, then use a slotted spoon to set on a wire rack to dry for 1 hour. (If you want them less crunchy, let them sit in the hot water for a few minutes).
When they are tacky but not wet, toss cranberries in the remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar until coated. Return to the wire rack to dry for another 1 hour.
Store in a cool place, loosely covered, for up to a week.