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.

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152 Comments / Reviews

No ImageMembrillo (Quince Paste)

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Carla

    Please, when you boil the quartered quinces (skin on) strain them. Use the whater to produce quince jelly.
    Then you can mash the cooked quince into a paste, add sugar and produce the hard set quince paste. It will set a lot faster.
    Hard set quince jam and quince jelly production always go together in a perfect zero waste tradition. At least in Portugal!

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  2. Robert

    I only have access to the smaller, ornamental Japanese quince, which I forage from my local park. These are too small to peel, about plum sized, but work fine once the cooked quarters are sieved.

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  3. Jen

    I will be trying this soon, thank you! Could you then water bath can the remainder of paste?

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  4. Andrea

    I made a smaller recipe, as I only had a few fruits (1.5 cups of puree). I didn’t even have to put it in the oven for it to set, though I was worried it would never turn pink! I left it in the fridge overnight after smoothing the paste into a parchment lined pan and by morning it was solid! Delicious!

    xxxxxyyyyy

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  5. Kay

    I followed the recipe exactly, it didn’t set underneath so I microwaved it then put it back into the oven for another hour and a half and it still hasn’t set

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