Dulce de Membrillo (Quince Jam)

Gluten Free · Vegan Friendly · Vegetarian · Dairy Free

20 April · Written by Raquel Jones


The history of membrillo (quince paste) and quince in Spain is deeply embedded in the country's culinary traditions, reflecting a broader Mediterranean affinity for this distinctive fruit. The quince likely originated in modern-day Iran and Turkey, spreading across the Mediterranean to Spain via Greece and Rome.

Ancient and Medieval Use

Quince was known in antiquity for its medicinal qualities and as a food item. The Ancient Greeks associated it with fertility and weddings, symbolising a hopeful future for the bride and groom. In medieval Spain, under both Christian and Islamic rule, quinces were favoured in royal courts and common kitchens alike, valued for their digestive and astringent properties.

The Moorish Influence and Culinary Traditions

The Moors, ruling parts of Spain for nearly 800 years, introduced sugarcane, revolutionising dessert preparation. The practice of cooking fruit with sugar, essential to making dulce de membrillo, owes much to this legacy. The journey of membrillo through Spanish history includes early recipes from the 15th century, indicating its preservation method using sugar.

Renaissance to Modern Spain

During the Renaissance, membrillo was a staple in kitchens, typically served with cheese or bread. This tradition evolved from cooking quince with honey, becoming a firm paste that could be sliced.

Contemporary Significance

Today, membrillo is popularly served with cheese like Manchego, especially as part of a tapas spread. The town of Puente Genil in Andalusia, known as the "city of membrillo," hosts festivals celebrating this tradition with competitions to create the best quince paste.

Cultural and Artistic Impact

Membrillo appears in Spanish arts and literature, symbolising domestic life or the countryside. Its inclusion in still-life paintings during the Golden Age of Spanish art highlights its cultural importance. This enduring significance is celebrated in various regional festivals across Spain, emphasising the fruit's historical and cultural ties.

May you enjoy this simple, yet satisfying recipe. I've also included cheese and wine pairings along with the best crackers and nuts to serve with the options. Easy entertaining!

Bon Profit! Raquel x

Makes 8-10 slices, depending on thickness


  • Approximately 2.25 kg of quinces (about 5-6 large fruits)
  • 1.35 kg of sugar (approximately 6 ¾ cups)
  • 1 cinnamon stick


Prepare the Quinces:
  • Wash the quinces thoroughly. Cut them in half and place them in a large deep pot, covering them with water.
  • Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the quinces are tender when pierced with a skewer.
  • Remove the quinces from the water and let them cool. Save the cooking liquid.
Process the Quinces:
  • Once cooled, peel and core the quinces.
  • Puree the fruit in batches in a blender or food processor, adding about 250 ml (1 cup) of the reserved cooking liquid to assist in blending. You should end up with about 1.5 to 1.75 litres (6-7 cups) of quince puree.
Cook the Mixture:
  • Place the quince puree into a heavy pot. Add the sugar and the cinnamon stick. Let it sit for 30 minutes to merge the flavours.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a low simmer. Continue to cook, stirring constantly to prevent the puree from sticking and burning. The mixture should reduce down and become thick, glossy, and somewhat translucent, typically taking about 30 minutes.
  • To test, drop a spoonful of the puree onto a cold plate; it should solidify quickly. Remove the cinnamon stick once cooking is completed.
Set the Jam:
  • Line a clean, dry plastic takeaway container with cling film, allowing the edges to overhang.
  • Carefully pour the hot quince puree into the lined container. Tap the container gently on the counter to settle the mixture evenly.
  • Allow the jam to cool at room temperature. Once cooled, cover and refrigerate overnight to fully set.
Unmould and Serve:
  • Once set, use the overhanging cling film to lift the dulce de membrillo out of the container.
  • Cut into slabs or desired shapes. Wrap each piece in cling film or wax paper to store.


Pairing 1: Manchego, Almonds, and Whole Grain Crackers

  • Cheese:Manchego is a firm, slightly salty sheep’s milk cheese from Spain that complements the sweetness of the quince paste beautifully.
  • Nut:Almonds, with their subtle sweetness and crisp texture, echo the nutty notes in the Manchego and add a delightful crunch.
  • Cracker:Whole grain crackers provide a rustic, earthy base that supports both the richness of the Manchego and the sweetness of the membrillo.
  • Wine:any Weathercraft Tempranillo

Pairing 2: Blue Cheese, Walnuts, and Rye Crackers

  • Cheese:A creamy blue cheese such as Gorgonzola or Stilton offers a bold, pungent flavour that contrasts strikingly with the sweet quince paste.
  • Nut:Walnuts have a rich, earthy taste that balances the sharpness of blue cheese and complements its creamy texture.
  • Cracker:Rye crackers, with their deep, malty flavour, are the perfect backdrop for the robust flavours of blue cheese and the brightness of the membrillo.
  • Wine:any Weathercraft Syrah or Shiraz

Pairing 3: Aged Cheddar, Hazelnuts, and Water Crackers

  • Cheese:A sharp, aged cheddar brings a depth of flavour with slight nuttiness that pairs well with the quince paste.
  • Nut:Hazelnuts, with their sweet and buttery profile, enhance the cheddar's richness.
  • Cracker:Water crackers offer a light, neutral taste and crispy texture that doesn’t overshadow the strong personalities of both the cheddar and the membrillo.
  • Wine:any Weathercraft Chardonnay