Customer Reviews: Cuisinart MSC-800 Cook Central 4-in-1 Multi-Cooker, 7 quart
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Size: 7-Quart|Change
Price:$192.00+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
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on August 10, 2013
UPDATE: The cord is 44" long. It is not retractable or detachable - it lays on the kitchen counter.

UPDATE: Yes - it is Made in China

UPDATE: No - you cannot use the insert on top of the stove nor in the oven. The insert has stay-cool handles made of hard plastic. The insert is aluminum, not ceramic, and is Teflon coated. I've had both type of inserts and definitely prefer the aluminum/Teflon insert - lighter weight & easier cleanup.

UPDATE: No - there is no delay timer of any sort. You cannot, for instance, set a timer to cook on high for 1 hour, then drop to low for 4 hours then drop to warm to keep the food at a safe temp. Nor can you set a delay timer to start cooking at a future time. The closest there is: you can select high, low, or simmer slow cook and set the number of hours up to 24. At the end of that time it will automatically down select to warm to stop "cooking" the food but keep it at a safe temp. Every time you open the lid, add 15-20 minutes to the recipe cooking time.

UPDATE: Slow cook temps are HIGH = 212 degrees, LOW = 200 degrees, SIMMER = 185 degrees, WARM = 165 degrees. Saute temps are: default is 350 degrees, programmable from 140 degrees to 400 degrees in 25 degree increments.

UPDATE: The entire instruction & recipe booklet is online at Cuisinart's web site in pdf format. Search for manual "MSC-600". I read the instructions and many of the recipes myself before I bought the unit.

UPDATE: Q: "Will this unit really "brown" meat well? (i.e., as in browning meat for a pot roast or browning beef chunks for stew?)". A: Yes, very well. See the saute temps elsewhere in my review. It has a large sort of oval shaped saute heating element underneath the insert which provides more than adequate heat for saute. However, if you put 5 pounds of stew beef in there all at once it is hard to brown it - just like a skillet but better temp control in increments of 25 degrees. Many of the recipes tell you to brown large quantities in shifts and remove the browned items before adding more - I use a left-to-right (raw-to-brown) rotation method to do that.

UPDATE: Do not cook chicken breasts in a slow cooker - it dries out the breasts. Read the manual. UPDATE Jan 2014: Contrary to what others here have told me here, I agree with Cuisinart, put the chicken breasts in the oven, not the slow cooker - better quality and faster.

UPDATE: After 13 months, here are my current observations as of January 2014:

I have not had the problems others have had with the electric panel on the front. I have had no odd things go wrong with the electronics of this item. So far so good.

I have not had the problems others have had with being unable to turn it back on once you turn it off. I have waited a few minutes to let it cool down first then start it back up like advised and have had no problems. I mean I wait maybe two minutes not 30 minutes. Not a problem for me.

This thing takes up space - lots of counter space and storage space. Wasn't a surprise though - I had visualized it with a tape measure and it is every bit as big as expected on the counter top for sure. But that's how you get the 6 quart capacity. UPDATE Jan 2014: Keep your old 3.5 quart ceramic crock pot for smaller meals, this 6 quart unit is too big for cooking 2-3 quarts of food (although the manual says "at least 1/3 full" it seems too big for 2 quarts of food to me).

I am a single guy who can't cook, doesn't like to cook, and I love this slow cooker. Years ago I had the standard 3.5 qt round 'crock pot'. Then branched out to the new stainless steel ones - 3 different sizes. Hated them, too hot to touch or move. Gave them all to Goodwill - including my old trusty ceramic one (sigh!). I missed my slow cooker so went on another slow cooker hunt. Decided on this one and I am very pleased with it.

I use this as a slow cooker for sure. But also use it to stir fry, saute, and sear/brown. Really like the fact that you can brown in this and immediately add the other ingredients for slow cooking. I like the depth of this to keep the grease from splattering around the kitchen as much. Even though it's just for one I like the capacity. Once I got this and started using it I got on Amazon and also ordered the Reditainers for fridge and freezer storage along with the freezer tape. I like having the digital temp on the front for very accurate temperatures. The low heat and high heat temps seem perfect to me on the slow cooker. The super hot stainless steel things I had before were either not hot enough (low) or way too hot (high). I think Cuisinart got this right on this model. Read the manual and understand the temps for high, low, simmer and warm and what they are for (and not for). Duh - read the manual!

So far I have made tomato soup (very rich/earthy flavor), hot and sour soup (OMG!), stuffed bell peppers (8 large or 10 small), chicken stir fry, steamed corn on the cob (4 full ears or 8-10 half ears), and a bunch of other stuff I don't remember.

From the Williams-Sonoma "Essentials of Slow Cooking" cookbook I also bought on Amazon, I have made: Beef Stroganoff(!), Italian Braised Short Ribs, Pot Roast w/ veges, Belgian Beef Stew, Asian Braised Short Ribs(!), and Chicken Mole (disaster, tossed this one). I intend to try Jambalaya in it and do something with Mahi Mahi steaks as well but I haven't tried any seafood in it yet. UPDATE Jan 2014: Yep, it makes great Jambalaya. Internet search "Crock-Pot Solutions" for perfect pre-mix quantities for this 6 quart unit. I recommend the Jambalaya and Chicken & Dumplings mixes.

Ooops: If you fill the thing full it will overflow once it reaches temperature. You must leave space for it to expand - do not under estimate this. Also, if you put it on saute to get the heat going it will very quickly overflow with a little explosive force as the expanding juices break the seal around the lid to escape - that was a mess to clean up all over the kitchen and had to take the bottom off the unit and clean the insides. One design flaw it seems - if it overflows the vents are wide open with no drip line design so it catches all the juices running down and takes them directly inside the unit. Dumb design - the vents need a drip line (flared vents) to prevent this. But I haven't made this mistake a second time. Do...not....over....fill! You can make up to 24 cups in this thing if you fill it to the max.

The 'loose' fitting lid is NOT a problem. Steam goes to the top, drips down the lid and creates a seal all the way around the top of the unit where the lid sits. The 'loose' fitting lid works perfectly.

Although the lid and the insert are dish washer safe, the lid is simply too big for the dish washer, let alone the pot. I use the dishwasher for everything - except for this. It's simply much easier to just wash it by hand and put it in the dry rack. It cleans very easily because of the Teflon and is much lighter to hold than the ceramic inserts were.

I have had no problem with the Teflon coming off or bubbling - I have no scratches yet. I use wooden spoons to stir and move things around, and carefully use metal prongs to turn meat over. But I have been very careful to not scratch it so far. I also follow the instructions and do NOT put the insert in the oven nor on a the stove top and my Teflon is not coming off nor is it bubbling anywhere. My Teflon looks like it the did the day I got it. I also do NOT run cold water into the insert when it is still hot.

I prefer my rice cooker/vege steamer for steaming veges other than corn. But I've purchased Risotto and plan to learn how to make it and plan to use this slow cooker on saute to do it. That way I can learn the exact digital temperature that works and repeat the success. Then expand to many different versions of Risotto. I like the digital read out since I don't have that innate cookers sense of temperature. You can up the temp in increments of 25 degrees for saute.

Read the instructions to understand how to use the digital panel - couple of things aren't intuitive but easy once you get the point.

Yes - I recommend this slow cooker and I have had and used many over the last 30 years. This slow cooker plus the Williams-Sonoma Slow Cooking cook book on Amazon makes me feel like I can cook. UPDATE Jan 2014: I haven't touched the Williams-Sonoma Slow Cooking cook book in 6 months.
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on May 22, 2013
I'm a big fan of crockpots in concept, but I've really relegated them to things like soups and whatnot. I mean, if I was gonna have to break out the dutch oven to brown my roast, why wouldn't I just cook it in there? In just the few weeks since I've had this, I've made pot roast, roasted a chicken, steamed artichokes, made bread pudding, and of course, made soup. (I think it's the law, you have to make 15 bean soup or the crockpot patrol takes you away.) I even made bacon, just to see if it would work. (It did!)

I'll admit, I lost the directions almost as soon as I unpacked it. So, some of my usage has been trial and error, but praise Flying Spaghetti Monster, I haven't found a way to burn the house down with it. The user controls are pretty self explanatory. The outside of the container stays considerably cooler than any other similar cooker I've owned, which is wonderful. The quad rubber feet keep it stable and non-slippy on even slick counter-tops like marble. The interior pot cleans up easily. I have not tried to put it in a dishwasher, since non-stick surfaces and dishwashers are two things that do not go well together.

The only thing I can think that might be a problem for some people is the sheer size of this thing. It's massive. I love that, it's what I wanted, but if you have a tiny kitchen or limited storage, you may want to check the dimensions to make sure it fits where you will be storing it. Also make sure you keep the cardboard that wrapped around the rack, or some other soft item that can buffer the nonstick surface from the metal of the steamer rack while it's being stored, so you don't chip your surface. All in all, I'm pleased with this purchase, and would recommend it to anyone who needs a really large slow cooker.
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on May 7, 2013
For the first time ever, I have found an electric cooking device that actually operates as advertised. My dissatisfaction with numerous crock pot/slow cookers in the past has been two-fold. First and most importantly, I could never regulate the temperature on my previous cookers according to my needs. All settings seemed to be too hot and the setting choices allowed no discretion in actually finding a real temperature (rather than high or low.) My other, less important problem with these devices was that many of my recipes had to be started on the stove top before using the crock pot setting. Now, with this Cuisinart 4-Quart Multi-Cooker, I can actually control the cooking temperatures accurately and I can do all of what previously required a stove top and an extra pot or pan right in the slow cooker, itself.

I did test the cooking temperatures before putting real food into the pot and it was very accurate. At this point in time, I have used it for browning and then slow cooking one of those famous little Costco Pork Sirloin Tip roasts. It worked beautifully. Yesterday I made white bean and ham soup without pre-soaking the beans and let it sit for awhile on "warm" after it turned itself off using the timer. Worked perfectly.

The only thing the MSC-400 does not do that would make me even happier, is to allow it to be programmed for a certain amount of time at "high" and then automatically switch to a "low "setting" to finish cooking. For some reason I thought it could be programmed that way, but it cannot. I would have purchased the cooker anyway, and I really could not be more pleased with it.

Finally, i was a little concerned about whether I should get the 4 quart or the 6 quart and ultimately went with the 4 and it is just right for my needs. I think that It is a great size for a family of three or four.
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on April 4, 2012
Loved this machine. Really hated to send it back but I had to. Twice. I purchased it from Williams Sonoma and thank goodness they have great customer service. The same things happened to both machines.

1) The front control panel will crack if you use it often or let it get very hot. The first time the crack was really bad but the second time I tried to live with a small crack until...

2) The non-stick interior will eventually bubble, peel and crack EVEN WITH BABYING IT. I never used anything but silicone or wood to stir and I hand washed the item and it still eventually bubbled and peeled.

Lastly, the machine was a bit temperamental but I finally figured out the lid placement has something to do with it actually functioning as intended.

Again, I was willing to live with it because I loved to brown items directly in the pot but I can't live with bits of non-stick surface in my food.
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on December 26, 2014
At first I was really hesitant on which slow cooker to purchase, but upon reading the previous reviews, I decided on this one. And I am so happy I did! I found a recipe online for a Mississippi Pot Roast and thought I would test out the browning option before carrying on with the recipe. I was really impressed with how well it browned the meat (see picture) and completed the meal. This is a great looking appliance, does not take up too much space, and works great! I highly recommend this product!
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on April 30, 2013
I loved the 3-in-1 cooking feature about the cuisinart and used all 3. Unfortunately, 3 months later it stopped working and
the full refund had expired as did the return shipping cost.
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on November 8, 2013
Teflon coating is coming off. Using only wooden spoons and silicone spatulas for a total of four uses. Amazon return period is up. so guess I'll contact Cuisinart.
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on October 28, 2015
First, I want to say that it works great. I have been using it for 10 month and it was perfect for my needs.
BUT I recently noticed that insert coating started to bubble up! It isn't scratched, I was always really careful with it.
So it is not been even a year and now it's unusable!
Now you just have to decide if you are ready to spend $130 every 10 month but I'm definitely not.
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on March 31, 2014
The concept is great. i loved using it. Sadly I can no longer use it because it is faulty and unhealthy. I would like a replacement if this is just a fluke that only happens to some of the units or a refund if it happens often.
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on September 22, 2012
When I read about this item at Williams Sonoma I wanted to try it.
They had a good price as well.
I always check Amazon before buying anything. Instead of the 7 quart,
i only needed the 6 quart and Amazon had that at a great price.
It came really fast from the retailer-Beach Audio. Sometimes Amazon affiliated
retailers send the cheapest way possible, but Beach Audio did a great job.

When I got it, I used it the next day for beef stew.
It was just as advertised. It worked great.
I followed the instructions and it was the best stew i ever made.
The whole family loved it.

It is not only easy to use, but i can do all the cooking i want in one pot.
I don't have to clean pots and sauce pans.
The clean up is so simple and easy, and it does not take up the whole counter.

What I don't understand is why this wasn't invented decades ago.
It was too simple an idea for big corporations to think up I guess.
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