Quince spoon sweet (Κυδώνι γλυκό του κουταλιού)

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Quince spoon sweet is a classic Greek dessert of fruit boiled in a syrup.

Quince spoon sweet is a classic Greek dessert of fruit boiled in a syrup.

We grew up in a home where certain times, certain events, and certain foods needed to be accompanied by certain special things.  So, when guests came over, we put out special bathroom towels.  When our parents’ made vegetable speckled rice, it was served in a special soup tureen (don’t judge).  During the holidays, the furniture and appliances were covered with festive doilies and cloths (versus the rest of the time, when they were covered with everyday doilies and cloths).  And when spoon sweets were served, it was always on little glass plates.

Spoon sweets were a staple growing up.  Every Greek family we knew, including ours, seemed to have jars and jars of sweet, syrupy dessert ready and waiting; perfect for unexpected guests, and for satisfying a craving for something sweet.  In Greek, this class of dessert is called γλυκό του κουταλιού (Glyko tou koutaliou) which translates into spoon sweet…because you eat it with a spoon, preferably off of a pretty, glass plate.

Quince spoon sweet is a classic Greek dessert of fruit boiled in a syrup.

It was years before we realized that not every culture is familiar with spoon sweets.  Our childhood, non-Greek friends would politely (usually) refuse, when offered a glyko (sweet) made of eggplant or figs, popular choices in our family.  When we think back, we suppose that these desserts may have sounded odd (and gross) to kids who would have been more used to peanut butter cookies and apple pie.  At the time however, wishing to have our friends taste the sweetness we were so fond of, we would say, “Okay, not the eggplant glyko…but how about our absolute favourite…this one, made with quince.”  For some reason, quince didn’t have them say yes.

Quince (Κυδώνι)

It had been years since our parents made any version of γλυκό του κουταλιού (Glyko tou koutaliou), and years since we had eaten this lovely dessert.  When we recently (two days ago) asked our parents to make this recipe with us, they remembered exactly how to prepare it.  There was no hesitation, no wondering about the amount of sugar to use, or how long to cook the quince.  They just set to the task, and a few hours later they pulled out a little glass plate and offered us some to taste.  We knew that this recipe was perfect, because as our spoon hit the glass, and the quince touched our lips, we were children again.

Quince (Κυδώνι)
Quince (Κυδώνι)

Helpful hints

What is quince?

Quince is a pome fruit that closely resembles pears and apples; no coincidence since all three come from the same botanical family.  Quince was first cultivated in the Middle East and some theologian scholars actually posit that the apple eaten by Adam and Eve was, in fact, a quince.  Perhaps, but it likely wouldn’t have tasted very good; most varieties of quince are too hard, astringent and sour to be eaten raw.  Cooking quince will not only make it edible, but it will also cause it to turn a lovely red colour, in contrast to the pale (or white) colour of the fruit in it’s uncooked state.

Quince (Κυδώνι)

How can you tell when a quince is ripe?

Quince are ripe, and ready to be used, when the outer peel is a yellow colour, and there is little, to no fuzz on the surface.  Even when ripe, the peel is hard and not edible.  The core as well is quite tough, and the seeds, if eaten in very large quantities, are poisonous.  Sounds great doesn’t it?!  No worries, a sharp paring knife is all you need to separate the fruit flesh from the peel, core and seeds. It is worth the effort (which isn’t really that much effort) because quince is absolutely delicious, and has a good amount of Vitamin C.

How the Greeks enjoy quince

Although modern Greeks love to use quince in desserts and even savoury dishes, the ancient Greeks considered it to be the fruit of love, marriage and fertility.  The fruit was regularly offered as a gift to the bride, so that it would sweeten her breath before she entered the bridal chamber with her new husband.  One would hope that the husband got to eat some too.

How to prepare quince spoon sweet?

In the recipe which follows, we suggest that you combine the prepared quince with the sugar and let it sit for several hours before cooking it.  This is going to allow the quince to develop a lovely colour as it comes into contact with the air.  It is not necessary however, and if you are pressed for time, the quince and sugar can be cooked soon after they are combined.

Quince (Κυδώνι)

The almonds are a great element to this spoon sweet.  Although you can certainly purchase unpeeled almonds, in the recipe we instruct you on how to remove the skins yourself.  It is beyond easy, and much cheaper, to do it this way.

How to serve quince spoon sweet

Spoon sweets are a great example of a little goes a long way.  This is a very sweet dessert, therefore, you do not need much to satisfy your palate; a few small spoonfuls is usually all you need.  You can also try this quince spoon sweet on a bit of Greek yogourt, or even some vanilla ice cream.  Delicious!

Quince spoon sweet (Κυδώνι γλυκό του κουταλιού)

Offer quince spoon sweet as a gift

Christmas is coming, and if you are someone who likes to offer homemade gifts, this spoon sweet is a perfect option.  Because it is so easy to prepare, you can certainly double or triple the recipe and make several individual gifts.  You can make your present as fancy as you like, by using pretty jars and decorating them festively.  Quince is usually available in the fall, making the timing perfect for holiday gift giving.  As well, because quince is somewhat uncommon, your gift will be delicious, and unique!

Quince spoon sweet is a classic Greek dessert of fruit boiled in a syrup.
Quince spoon sweet (Κυδώνι γλυκό του κουταλιού)
Quince spoon sweet is a classic Greek dessert of fruit boiled in a syrup.

Quince spoon sweet is a classic Greek dessert of fruit boiled in a syrup.

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Quince spoon sweet is a classic Greek dessert of fruit boiled in a syrup.
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5 from 4 votes

Quince spoon sweet

Quince spoon sweet is a classic Greek dessert of fruit boiled in a syrup.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Greek
Keyword: #greeklentenrecipes, easy dessert,, quince, spoon sweet,
Servings: 3 cups
Author: Mia Kouppa


  • Saucepot
  • Slotted spoon


  • 3 cups quince, peeled and cut into chunks about 2 medium sized quince
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup whole almonds
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon


  • Peel the quince and cut it into wedges (avoiding the hard core and seeds), which are about 1 centimeter thick.  Cut each wedge into half.  Add the sugar to the quince, and set aside.  You can choose to set this aside for several hours, or even overnight.  Doing so will result in the quince changing colour and turning slightly pink.  It is not a necessary step however.
    3 cups quince, peeled and cut into chunks, 2 cups sugar
  • Prepare your almonds.  If the almonds still have skin on them, place them in a small saucepan of water and bring to a boil.  Boil for about 2 – 3 minutes.  Rinse your almonds under cold water.  When they are cool enough to handle, slip the skins right off.  Then, with a sharp paring knife, very carefully, split the almonds in two.  This should happen relatively easily.
    1/3 cup whole almonds, 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • In a saucepan, add the quince and sugar combination (and any liquid which may have been released from the fruit) and cook, uncovered, over medium heat.  Add the cinnamon and mix well.  Stir regularly. Cook over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes.  Add the almonds.  Stir well, and continue to cook over medium heat for another 10 to 15 minutes.  The quince should be soft, but not mushy.
  • Using a slotted spoon, remove the quince and almonds from the pot.  Continue cooking the syrup for another 5 minutes.  The syrup should become quite thick, and almost candy-like.  You know that it is ready when you dip a spoon into the syrup, lift if up, and it does not easily drip off the spoon.  It should be quite sticky at this point.
  • Remove the pot from heat and pour the sticky syrup over the quince and almonds.  Allow to sit.  The syrup will become more liquid and fluid as it rests.  Divide evenly into jars.
  • Enjoy!

10 responses to “Quince spoon sweet (Κυδώνι γλυκό του κουταλιού)”

  1. Joanne Jamis Cain Avatar

    Love this recipe! Do the jars need to be refrigerated once filled? Also, would this recipe work with other fruit or peel (grapefruit rind) like I had in Greece?

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Hi Joanne, Thanks! We usually do refrigerate the jars after they are filled, and they keep in the fridge for quite a while (not that it lasts too long). Thanks for your question actually….we will add that to the recipe! You can bring the quince to room temperature before serving. And yes, there are a wide variety of spoon sweets that are made, and are very popular in Greece and in Greek homes everywhere. We will be sharing some of our family favourites in the future. Thanks for your interest in Mia Kouppa!

  2. Megala Avatar

    Love to try this beautiful & delicious quince, but I can’t find one here ! Shall I use pear & apple instead?

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Hi Megala!!! Hmmm….good question. We have never substituted the quince for apple or pear. Our guess would be that pear may work better than apple…especially if you use a firm pear. But the truth is, quince brings a unique, almost perfume element to this dessert, which you will not get exactly with any substitute. Let us know how it works out if you try it. Also, in the future, we will be posting other spoon sweet recipes, made with more common ingredients 🙂

      1. Megala Avatar

        Thanks for your reply ! Yes, I would try this and let you know and am looking forward to see your other spoon sweet recipes as well !

  3. Karin, theaustriandish Avatar

    I’m always looking for quince recipes, because quinces are not very common in Austria. You don’t get them very often in stores or on the markets. Until now I only know quince-jelly (vey tasty!), but I think I will try this version either.

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Hi Karin! I do hope you try this recipe. It is such a delicious way to enjoy this fruit. We are in Canada, and quince are really only available at this time of year…so we try to use them up when we can 😉 Thanks for your interest in Mia Kouppa!

  4. Vicki Constantinides Avatar
    Vicki Constantinides

    Can this be canned like other fruit (in a water bath) so that it will last for gift giving? My mother is a big fan and I’d like to giver her some for Christmas.

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Hi Vicki. 🙂 That sounds like it would make a lovely Christmas gift for your mom. Honestly, we usually just store our quince jam in the fridge, but I don’t see why you couldn’t preserve it as you would jam or jelly. As with all preserved foods, be sure to create a proper seal, and if something looks off, or smells bad, toss it. 🙂

  5. […] they would add a topping of fresh fruit (sliced bananas were a particular favourite) or a spoon sweet they had previously made and preserved.  We still see this box of pudding in the Greek grocery […]

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