We describe how to approximate the intractable marginal likelihood that arises when fitting generalized linear mixed models. We prove that non-adaptive quadrature approximations yield high error asymptotically in every statistical model satisfying weak regularity conditions. We derive the rate of error incurred when using adaptive quadrature to approximate the marginal likelihood in a broad class of generalized linear mixed models, which includes non-exponential family response and non-Gaussian random effects distributions. We provide an explicit recommendation for how many quadrature points to use, and show that this recommendation recovers and explains many empirical results from published simulation studies and data analyses. Particular attention is paid to models for dependent binary and survival/time-to-event observations. Code to reproduce results in the manuscript is found at https://github.com/awstringer1/glmm-aq-paper-code.