CONSTRUCTION AND LOOKSThe Tesco sc356 slow cooker looks good with a brushed stainless steel outer casing. The controls are simple, one dial with settings for low, high, warm and off. The central red light comes on during cooking, a simple but useful feature which some slow cookers don't have. The outer case and the cooking bowl are oval.
SIZES AND CAPACITIESThe cooking bowl has a total capacity of 3.3 litres which is large enough for four people. The overall weight of the slow cooker is 4.1kg and the bowl weighs in at 2.5kg which is about average. The power cord is 90cm / 3ft from the base of the unit to the plug which should be long enough for most uses.
The approximate dimensions are reasonably standard at 22cm high, 23cm wide and 35cm long. Energy consumption is commendable and in the range 134W to 160W.
COOKING PERFORMANCEIt's difficult to fault the cooking performance of the Tesco sc356 slow cooker, it cooks a good stew with meat and vegetables evenly cooked through. In common with most slow cookers it does best if you set it to high for an hour and then leave it to cook on low for the remainder of the time.
For the more technical, and a more impartial method of judging the cooking performance we tested out how long the unit took to heat lukewarm water to the low temperature and how hot it heated the water on the high setting. It took 3½ hours to reach it's maximum on low (78°C) and on high it reached a temperature of 89°C. These readings are almost exactly how a good slow cooker should perform so top marks for cooking performance - see our explanation of food temperatures here. The "keep warm" setting reached a heat of 76°C which is a couple of degrees warmer than it should be.
FEATURESThe Tesco sc356 slow cooker has a target price just £12.00 which puts it firmly into the low budget price range. So you would expect it to be short on features and it is. However, with thee heat settings and a commendable cooking performance it's a very practical budget option for a family of four.
The cooking bowl is dish washer safe although the toughened glass lid needs to be washed by hand. The instructions are basic by any standards and there are no recipes. But what do you expect for £12! For recipes see our recipes page here and for hints and tips on slow cooking click here, all for free!
OTHER REVIEW OPINIONSAlmost all the review sites are full of praise for this slow cooker without any hint of reliability problems. The one website which criticises the Tesco slow cooker is "Which" but they really are almost entirely alone in this aspect.
UPDATES24 December 2012 - the Tesco SC356 looks like it will shortly be withdrawn from sale and replaced by the new SCSS12 3 litre Slow Cooker. We will be reviewing it shortly but first impressions are that it is the same as the old slow cooker but with a slightly reduced capacity of 3 litres against the old model's 3.3 litres. Current price is £12 which is the same price as the old model.
|Low setting cooking
|High setting cooking
|How easy to use
|Value for money
I have found them both to be great basic slow cookers. I would have given 5* but for one little thing, thought it is cosmetic, the LED on one just died. I wasn't sure if the whole thing had broken until I touched it inside soon after turning it on, less than a minute, and felt it warm up so it still worked.
On a side note to the article I have noticed that the LED does sort of indicate setting being brighter on low than warm, and brighter still on high compared to low. This might just be me noticing this but it is useful for seeing the setting at a quick glance on the one that still has a working LED.
Review by David Marks.