Membrillo (Quince Paste)

Jams and JelliesQuince

Dulce de Membrillo recipe, a popular Spanish paste made from quince and served with Manchego cheese.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Ever since I started making quince jelly people have been telling me about membrillo, a quince paste that is practically the national snack of Spain when paired with Manchego, sheep’s milk cheese. Nicky and Melissa have written about membrillo, enough to inspire me to go to Whole Foods and buy some to try for myself.

Oh my gosh. If you have not yet tried membrillo with Manchego, get yourself to the nearest Whole Foods or other specialty market and buy some!

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If I lived in Spain I would eat this every day.

Once you’ve tried it, you’ll see what all the fuss is about, and you may even be motivated to try your hand at making some, which is exactly what happened to me.

dulce de membrillo

Not familiar with quince? It’s a hard fruit that looks sort of like a cross between an apple and a pear. Most varieties you can’t eat raw, only cooked. They cook up pink and have a wonderful sweet floral aroma. Like apples and pears, they’re in season during the fall.

Make Membrillo with Quince

Membrillo (Quince Paste) Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds quince, washed, peeled, cored, roughly chopped
  • 1 vanilla pod, split
  • 2 strips (1/2 inch by 2 inches each) of lemon zest (only the yellow peel, no white pith)
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • About 4 cups of granulated sugar, exact amount will be determined during cooking

Method

1 Boil the quince in water with vanilla pod and lemon zest: Place quince pieces in a large saucepan (6-8 quarts) and cover with water. Add the vanilla pod and lemon peel and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook until the quince pieces are fork tender (30-40 minutes).

boil quince for membrillo boil quince until soft for membrillo

2 Make quince purée: Strain the water from the quince pieces. Discard the vanilla pod but keep the lemon peel with the quince. Purée the quince pieces in a food processor, blender, or by using a food mill.

puree boiled quince for membrillo

3 Measure the purée: Measure the quince purée. Whatever amount of quince purée you have, that's how much sugar you will need. So if you have 4 cups of purée, you'll need 4 cups of sugar.

4 Heat purée to dissolve sugar, add lemon juice: Return the quince purée to the large pan. Heat to medium-low. Add the sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar has completely dissolved. Add the lemon juice.

add sugar to quince puree for membrillo

5 Cook on low heat until thick and dark pink: Continue to cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 1-1 1/2 hours, until the quince paste is very thick and has a deep orange pink color.

cook puree for quince paste cook quince puree until rosy pink

6 Put in low oven to dry: Preheat oven to a low 125°F (52°C). Line a 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper (do not use wax paper, it will melt!). Grease the parchment paper with a thin coating of butter. Pour the cooked quince paste into the parchment paper-lined baking pan. Smooth out the top of the paste so it is even.

dry quince paste

Place the membrillo paste in the 125°F oven for an hour or longer to help it dry out. (If you have a convection or fan setting for your oven, use it.) Remove from oven and let cool.

7 Serve: To serve, cut into squares or wedges and present with Manchego cheese. To eat, take a small slice of the membrillo and spread it on top of a slice of the cheese. Store by wrapping in foil or plastic wrap, an keeping in the refrigerator.

Note: The first time I made this the top part set, but the bottom had not. To fix, I emptied the quince paste into a large pyrex bowl and put in the microwave. I cooked it on high in 5 minute increments for 20 minutes. During the last minute one of the edges started to caramelize and turn brown. This you don't want to have happen, as the caramelized parts destroy the flavor, but in this case it was a good indication that the rest of the quince paste was ready. I discarded the browned parts and returned the rest to a newly lined baking dish. Back into the oven for an hour and it was done to perfection.

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Links:

Quince Jelly here on Simply Recipes

Quince Jam here on Simply Recipes

Quince Tart Tartin by David Lebovitz

Rosy Poached Quince by David Lebovitz

Dulce de Membrillo, Quince Paste

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

168 Comments / Reviews

No ImageMembrillo (Quince Paste)

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. jo

    I love this recipe and have used it as a guide for fig paste as well. Always get a nice smooth rich paste, but tends to need closer to 3 hrs cooking.
    To help with the setting of the paste I place all the peel and core in muslin bag during the boiling stage and remove it before processing. The high pectin content in the peel helps to set the paste. May be helpful if you like to use slightly less sugar. I also place the mixture in small Chinese T/A sauce dipping containers instead of setting in a large pan, then allow to dry out in a fan force oven overnight (no temp. ). That way I have individual serving sizes ready to go.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  2. Jodi

    I am making this now, but opted for MUCH less sugar (I used date sugar) because we are a very-low-almost-no-sugar household but we love membrillo. :-) Sooooo without the huge sugar content the paste does not turn bright orange and it does not get shiny. It tastes amazing but is dull in color and will not gel. Wondering if anyone else has tried this with less sugar and managed to get a good result?

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  3. joe

    I will try this recipe. I am 1 for 2 with Membrillo, it really is a treat. I make Quince Jam yearly, nothing beats it in a PBJ, and it is a great poultry glaze.

  4. nonya

    Terrible recipe. Find another one that is waaaay simpler than this one and sets everytime

    xxxxxyyyyy

  5. Ann

    This was my third time making it following your directions, and this was the first year that it set completely. I slice the quinces in half and cook to tenderness — it’s much easier to remove the core when cooked. Plus, the skin can be processed with the pulp, and it grinds down to nothing. The lowest temperature my oven can achieve is 170 F, so I went with that, and cooked for an hour. Then I left the dish sitting on the counter, lightly covered, overnight. In the morning, perfect membrillo!

    xxxxxyyyyy

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