The 50-year-old - who played Sharon Theodopolopodous for nine years alongside Linda Robson in the BBC One sitcom - begins filming at the soap's Leeds home at the end of next month and her larger-than-life character soon finds herself at the epicentre of "an enormous and gripping storyline".
Free-spirited teacher Hazel arrives in the Dales on a whistlestop visit to see her son Jackson (Marc Silcock), who is currently being wooed by troubled teen Aaron Livesy (Danny Miller).
However, as one newly-single villager takes a keen interest in her, Hazel's jetset lifestyle is halted when she becomes embroiled in a "hugely dramatic" plot that affects the lives of both her son and his lover.
Speaking of her signing, Quirke said: "I'm really looking forward to joining the show, my mum was a fan back when it was called Emmerdale Farm, so it's always been a part of my life. The show has really moved on, it's consistently good, there are some great characters and great storylines, I've especially loved Aaron's story."
She added: "I've never done anything like this before so it's something different for me and I'm very happy to be a part of it."
Series producer Gavin Blyth commented: "I am absolutely delighted that Pauline will be joining Emmerdale at such an exciting time. She is a fantastic actor who I know will do justice to this character."
He went on: "Alongside Aaron and Jackson, she will be at the centre of an enormous and gripping storyline this autumn/winter. One to really look forward to."
Quirke's other acting credits include Skins, Casualty, Cold Blood, The Bill and My Family.
More recently, she starred as DS Mary Jane Croft in a second series of BBC One's daytime drama Missing.