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

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

114 Comments / Reviews

No ImageMembrillo (Quince Paste)

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. kfleig

    It’s good, but I wish I had used a recipe without vanilla bean. I use half a bean, split and it overpowers the taste of the quince. Easy, time consuming.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  2. Barry M. Wise

    The first time I made this my membrillo didn’t set up very well. So I read some other recipes and especially the comments that went with them. It is noted in some of them that the quince cores and peels contain the most pectin and you should put them in a cheesecloth sack in the pot that you are using to cook the quince in. I didn’t have a cheesecloth bag so instead I boiled the peels and cores separately for 20 minutes, then strained out the water and used that to cook the quince in. My theory here is that the pectin should be in the liquid from cooking the peels and cores.

    My quince actually come from a flowering quince bush and are pretty small, and when cooked they really fall apart, so it is important to use only as much water in them as needed (not enough to cover them at the start) so that the result is not too soupy. I blended all of it up and then added the sugar etc. and cooked for about two hours.

    After pouring the cooked puree into flat parchment lined pans I put it in the oven at 150 for two hours (my oven doesn’t do 125) and then turned the oven off and left it overnight to cool. Result was perfect! I don’t actually know if using the water from cooking the peels and cores was truly helpful but this batch turned out way firmer than the first batch I made without it.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  3. Deb Moreheart

    I am very pleased with the result and took note of all comments beforehand. I only have an inexpensive bench top pizza oven so finished off at 100* and sealed the top with lightly buttered parchment paper to prevent a darker skin forming on the surface. This way I could leave it a couple of hours on low.
    Also I kept all seeds in a muslin bag as the sugar purée mix rendered down. With sugar I used 3/4 cup to an overfull cup of purée which worked fine.
    I have wrapped them in parchment paper parcels and keep in a sealed plastic container; they make a lovely gift.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  4. Vivien

    I made the jelly and the paste. The paste was in the oven for hours, did not set. I did what was suggested to put in microwave for 5 minute incriments for 20 mins. It has now been put in the oven and the consistency seems like its going be right this time. The mistake I made was that I didnt put lemon juice in it – I put this in before I put in the microwave. Fingers crossed, all a learning curve – will be onto it next year when I have another turn. The Quince jelly is wonderful and the colour is like a ruby jewel, tastes incredible and I am so pleased.

  5. Ghislaine.

    I just tried the recipe, I had to add pectin powder diluted in a few tablespoon fulls of the cooking juice of the quince I had not discarded yet as a retrofit option, as even with a muslin bag of all the quince pips included and the lemon rind it was not going to set any time soon, checking with the cooling spoon test I usually do with jams and jellies. Fortunately I found one pectin product you could do that with (Special Ingredients Premium Quality Natural Pectin Powder as I do not have a microwave oven for health reasons. The 1 1/2 hours were needed to get to a thick fromage frais/smooth cottage cheese consistency. Once pectin in and brought back to a rolling boil for 1 minute, then cooled down for 10 minutes, I poured it in a dish lined with parchment paper at the recommended thickness on a low fan assisted oven setting of 100oC with the oven door ajar for 1 hour on one side with a rest of 1/2 day and another hour on the other side to get 3/4 there in the drying. It is now resting at room temperature with a tea towel on top to finish it off for a couple more days and it looks very promising. So far it tastes just like the quince “pate de fruit” I was given when I was little and living in France. I enjoyed the scrapings from the sides of the pan before washing it ! what a trip down memory lane ! I have another 2 batches to make, I may try the jelly with the second one and blanch/freeze the 3rd for later use, as it is said that quince freezes well.

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