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!

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

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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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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

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

89 Comments / Reviews

No ImageMembrillo (Quince Paste)

Did you make it? Rate it!

  • J

    looks like a good paste, and easy way to make the paste without the mess of the pot is in a slow cooker over 12 hours, coat the quince pieces with the sugar, stir occasionally once its changed colour, stick blend to form the paste and put into jars

  • Bill Horne

    As well as making the membrillo (Irasagar in Euskera or Basque) “jelly” in a pan in the oven, it’s possible to make quince leather by spreading the cooked, simmered puree onto food dryer sheets.

  • David A Vaillette

    When you boil the quince and drain it, save the cook water! I have been using it in marinades for fish, but I imagine you could just add some sugar and heat it up and you would have quince jelly, or use it in place of pectin in other jam recipes for a tasty mix. (That one I have done to good effect. I’m gonna try grapes if I can find some wild concord grapes.)

  • Andrea

    I’ve been making quince paste for years and always simmer the quince whole first then leave them to cool on the pan before peeling and coring, purring. I then return the quince puree to the pan with the sugar and bring it to the boil before tipping it into my large crockpot and cooking it in there for 10-12 hours. Using this method it only needs a stir every couple of hours and you don’t get quince splatters on the ceiling. When it’s cooked & cooled i spoon it into silicon muffin trays. Ive never needed to dry it in the oven. Using the muffin pans you get lovely 1.5 inch deep discs that are perfect for a cheese board.

  • chelsea

    Hi there,

    I made the quince paste and have had it in the fridge for a few days but it’s still a bit soft–can I add it back to the oven to dry out more even though it’s been in the fridge? Is there anyway to salvage?

    Thanks!

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