The only other change in the starting line-up from the Glasgow game sees Barry Murphy retain the number 13 jersey, with Tom Gleeson, whom he replaced in the 63rd minute last weekend at Firhill Arena, dropping to the replacements.
Commenting on his return for Munster, Quinlan said: "I'm delighted to be pulling on that Munster shirt again. Really looking forward to the game.
"Pre-season has gone really well and I feel in good shape but it's a big step up from training, a game like this and particularly when it's against a quality side like Cardiff.
"But nevertheless I can't wait to get out on the pitch," he added.
MUNSTER (v Cardiff Blues): Felix Jones; Doug Howlett, Barry Murphy, Lifeimi Mafi, Denis Hurley; Jeremy Manning, Peter Stringer; Marcus Horan, Denis Fogarty, John Hayes, Mick O'Driscoll (capt), Donnacha Ryan, Alan Quinlan, Niall Ronan, Denis Leamy.
Replacements: Damien Varley, Tony Buckley, Billy Holland, Tommy O'Donnell, Toby Morland, Scott Deasy, Tom Gleeson.