fresh cranberry on wooden background
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Lingonberry Vs Cranberry — What’s The Difference?

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There are more and more berries that are becoming globally available — some of which you have likely never even heard of before! But sometimes you won’t even notice the difference between them.

So what are the differences between lingonberry and cranberry? Lingonberries and cranberries look very similar, and the nutritional composition of these berries is also close. However, lingonberries are smaller than cranberries with a sweeter flavor and less tart, bitter notes. Both grow in the Northern Hemisphere, but not in the same areas of the world.

In this jam-packed article, we take an in-depth look at the differences between these two popular red berries.

We will explore their physical differences, nutritional content, where and how they grow, and how they are commonly used in different cuisines!

What Are Lingonberries?


Lingonberries are not well-known across the globe, although IKEA is doing its part to popularize them!

They are much less common (in any form) than cranberries. So naturally, fewer people are familiar with what they are and often confuse them for cranberries!

These berries are most commonly found in Scandinavian countries like Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.

They are also found throughout the Northern Hemisphere on continents like North America, Asia, and Northern Europe. But again, they are a lot less common in these areas.

Lingonberries are also known as “cowberries,” “foxberry,” or “mountain cranberries” — there are actually around 25 English names for this berry! The name depends on where you are located.

Their scientific name is Vaccinium vitis-idaea — this is a small evergreen shrub from the Ericaceae family.

They are commonly found wild, but because they are so rare, the berries you find in stores are most likely cultivated.

Physical Looks

These berries are bright red in color and measure roughly 0.2–0.4 inches in diameter (6–10 millimeters).

If you do harvest the berries in the wild, you will have to look at the bush to determine what the berries are.

These berries grow on smaller low-growing shrubs. The leaves are slightly curved and green. They also have bell-shaped white and light pink flowers.

Flavor, Texture, And Aroma

Lingonberries are slightly sweet with tart undertones — some would even describe them as being slightly sour! They are definitely very fruity and have prominent berry flavors that you would instantly recognize.

You can eat these berries raw, but because their flavor is so tart, most people prefer using them in other dishes.


This berry offers a ton of nutritional benefits! Lingonberries are very high in antioxidants. They include minerals and vitamins like vitamins C and E, as well as manganese.

They may improve gut health, blood sugar levels, heart health, eye health, brain health, kidney health, and oral health.

These red berries are also virtually fat-free, contain very little protein, about 13% carbohydrates, and (as we’ve mentioned) a ton of other nutrients.

They are very impressive and pack quite the nutritional punch. If you can, we highly recommend incorporating some of these berries into your diet!

Where They Are Found

As we have mentioned, these berries are mostly available in regions located in the Northern Hemisphere. You will have the best chances of finding them in Scandinavian countries, especially Sweden.

You can try finding them in other parts of the world, but you may have no luck at all. Some countries don’t even have access to dried lingonberries!

You can also try looking for them under other names — Wikipedia has quite a comprehensive list of alternative names.

Traditional Dishes

A very well-known and popular traditional dish that is made using lingonberries is Swedish Köttbullar, a meatball dish served with mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam. This jam is also very popular with chicken and fish dishes!

Many Alaskan natives use these berries to make jam or juice. The Inupiat group uses these berries in a whipped form and serves them with frozen fish eggs.

And in Russia, a popular soft drink is made called “lingonberry water.”

There are many more dishes that make use of these berries. They are very easy to find and usually very versatile in how they are served.

What Are Cranberries?

Cranberries in wooden bowl on wooden background.

Everybody knows what cranberry is, even though it may not be readily available in all regions and countries.

Luckily, these don’t really have alternative names, even though two main species are cultivated and harvested.

These berries grow in Northern Europe, America, and Canada

In Northern Europe (Russia and other Nordic countries), the Oxycoccos sub-genera is very common. In America and Canada, the Macrocarpon sub-genera is more common.

These red berries are often harvested in the wild, but they are a more popular option for cultivating. You will be able to easily find dried cranberries in most parts of the world. However, finding fresh cranberries could prove challenging!

Physical Looks

Cranberries have a similarly bright red color to lingonberries, which is probably the main reason people confuse these two berries for one another.

They are much bigger though. Cranberries range between 0.4–0.6 inches in diameter (9–14 millimeters).

If you are harvesting cranberries in the wild, you can look out for a creeping vine or dwarf evergreen shrub. They also have small green leaves and dark pink flowers. Commercially, they are commonly cultivated in bogs.

Flavor, Texture, And Aroma

Cranberries have a very low sugar content and are predominantly tart and bitter — not many people eat them raw. It’s also the reason they aren’t found fresh in most areas of the world; there simply isn’t a big enough demand for them.

They do have berry and floral undertones, but the bitter flavor tends to overwhelm everything.


Cranberries are just as nutritious and nutrient-dense as lingonberries.  They are relatively low in calories, fat-free, low in carbs, and low in protein.

When it comes to their vitamin and mineral content, they are very high in vitamin C and manganese. They also contain a good amount of vitamins A, E, and K. Minerals that are quite high include copper and potassium.

Cranberries can help lower your blood pressure, protect your liver from diseases, help maintain and improve your eyesight, and help your overall heart health.

Where They Are Found

Cranberries are easily available in fresh, dried, and powdered forms in America, Canada, and Northern European countries. 

In other parts of the world, they are mostly available frozen or dried, and depending on where you are, you can even find cranberry powder, which is popular for desserts, smoothies, and sauces.

Traditional Dishes

Because cranberries are much more readily available, there are few “traditional” dishes made using them. The most popular example is cranberry sauce for a Thanksgiving turkey.

There are also a few popular cocktails that are made using cranberries. The most popular example is a Cosmopolitan cocktail, which uses cranberry juice.

Lingonberry Vs Cranberry — Differences And Similarities

These berries are extremely similar in many ways, but if you take a closer look, you will start noticing some pretty big differences.

Firstly, both of these berries have a similar color and shape. Cranberries, however, are noticeably bigger than lingonberries.

If you are foraging for wild berries, you can also tell them apart from their plants. Cranberries grow on creeping vines and small shrubs, and are commercially cultivated in bogs. Lingonberries grow on larger, low-growing shrubs.

Cranberries also have dark pink flowers, whereas lingonberry bushes have bell-shaped, light pink or white flowers.

When it comes to the flavors of these berries, cranberries are mostly tart, bitter, and even sour. Lingonberries are much sweeter but still have a bitter, tart undertone.

Both of these berries can be found in fresh or dried form. You are more likely to find fresh cranberries (and other cranberry products) than lingonberry products. Lingonberries are less readily available.

Both can also be harvested from the wild or found cultivated. Naturally, all wild or foraged products will be more expensive and harder to find.

Both of these berries are very nutrient-dense. Their build looks very similar, so you can look at macro differences if you’d like on nutrition websites.

Both of these berries can be easily found in the Northern Hemisphere, but generally in different locations.

And finally, if you look at how both of these berries are used, it is very similar, regardless of the country or cuisine.

These berries work best in jams, sauces, juices, and in their dried form. That’s because these forms help to hide their bitter flavors, which makes them a lot more palatable and easy to ingest.

SpeciesVaccinium Vitis-idaeaOxycoccos (America and Canada) and Macrocarpon (Europe)
Where FoundMostly found in Scandinavian countries, but can also be found in Northern America, Europe, Russia, and AsiaAmerica, Canada, Northern Europe
BushesLow-growing shrubs with light pink or white bell-shaped flowers.Creeping vines or dwarf shrubs with dark pink flowers.
Size0.2–0.4 inches in diameter (6–10 millimeters)0.4–0.6 inches in diameter (9–14 millimeters)
Raw FlavorSweet with bitter, tart undertonesPredominantly bitter
NutrientsHigh in vitamin C and manganese, also contains a lot of other vitamins and mineralsHigh in vitamin C and copper., nutritionally very similar to lingonberries
Available FormsYou can find fresh or dried berries, but mainly in the countries that they are grown inFound in all forms in most countries in the world, but the dried and powdered forms are the most popular

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