Crock-Pot 38501-W Review

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This 5-quart programmable slow cooker sells at a very cheap price, but consumers complain that the Crock-Pot 38501-W runs way too hot and regularly ruins their meals.

At first glance, the very low price on this programmable slow cooker makes the Crock-Pot 38501-W (starting at $23, Amazon) seem like a true bargain. Indeed, a favorable Crock-Pot 38501-W review at About.com extols the virtues of the pre-set heat/timing combinations and others at Walmart similarly note the benefits of the automatic switchover to warm mode when cooking is done. Many of these reviews assert that the end product - be it stew prepared with less cuts of meat or a lava cake - is always a delight.

But others, including consumers who posted Crock-Pot 38501-W reviews at Amazon, aren't won over. These critics complain about hot spots, burnt food, leaking, sputtering, broken side handles, and a lid handle that's too hot to touch. At Newegg, reviews describe the temperature controls as useless, noting that liquids boil even when the controls are set to warm. One consumer grouses that a frozen, 4-pound roast cooks so quickly it can't be left to cook all day even when set on 4 hours/low heat, and other reviews warn that this slow cooker needs babysitting: leaving the contents unattended is a surefire way to a dry, burnt, and otherwise unpalatable meal, they assert.

The 5-quart capacity of the Crock-Pot 38501-W suits two hungry people or a small family. Its best feature is the programmable settings panel, which lets you choose 4 or 6 hours on low or 8 or 10 hours on high; once the time runs out, the cooker switches itself to warm mode. The stoneware crock has a stick-resistant coating and is dishwasher safe, as is the glass lid.

The Crock-Pot 38501-W seems to be an attempt to offer frugal consumers a cheap slow cooker with programmable settings. But based on the reviews we found, this product just doesn't rise to the occasion. Where's the convenience of a slow cooker -- and a programmable one, at that -- if you can't just walk away?

Maralyn Edid

Maralyn is a veteran reporter, writer, researcher, and editor. From her early years at Crain's Chicago Business and the Detroit bureau of Business Week, then on to a long-term stint at Cornell University's ILR School and now at Cheapism.com, Maralyn has been -- and remains -- committed to getting ...

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