Is your slow cooker smelling weird and killing your appetite?

That has got to be very annoying! Cooking a nice meal for yourself, your friends, or your family should always be a pleasant experience that has your mouth watering before you even serve.

But when your appliance is smelling like a skunk while you’re trying to make a hearty dish, your evening plans can crumble to the ground.

I know having this happen is no fun, but luckily, you’re not out of options. Below, I’ve prepared a small list including 5 things you can do to get rid of the weird smell coming from your cooker. I’m certain that by the end of this piece, you’ll be back whistling in the kitchen.

When your slow cooker is smelling weird, you can try waiting until the factory chemicals burn off, cleaning it thoroughly, and relocating it. If that fails, you can also check the pot for leaks, or use an alternate power source.

Keep reading to clear the air!

#1 Let the Factory Smell Burn Off

I’d like to start by addressing something that a lot of people might not be aware of – factory protective coating.

Almost every appliance out there gets covered in a substance at the factory to prevent scratching and other signs of damage that might affect the end consumer experience upon purchasing. If you own a waffle maker or an air fryer, you probably know what I’m talking about.

A slow cooker preparing a meal
Brand-new slow cookers need a couple of cooking sessions to lose their factory-coating smell

A lot of people say the substance’s smell reminds them of burnt plastic, but descriptions might differ from person to person.

The bottom line is that, if your slow cooker is smelling weird, and it’s brand new, there’s a good chance nothing’s wrong with it. All you have to do to enjoy the nice aromas of your delicious cooking is going through a couple of cooking sessions to burn off any traces of the protective substance.

More often than not, and depending on how often you use the appliance, the smell should be gone within a week.

#2 Clean the Pot Thoroughly

Assuming your appliance has been around the block a few times, and it’s still smelling weird, chances are you’re not cleaning it properly.

Now, I’m not saying this is your fault, not in the slightest. Sometimes, tough grease spots and food residue can be almost invisible, making it difficult to notice that your slow cooker’s pot is not as pristine as it seems.

A slow cooker being washed
It’s essential to deep clean your slow cooker often

This might not be too obvious at first, but as time goes by, the buildup of months worth of food residue can start causing some very unpleasant smells to flood the air.

Solution: You should deep clean your slow cooker at least once a week. To do so, please follow these easy steps:

  1. Unplug the appliance from the wall outlet and let it cool down completely
  2. Once it’s cool enough to handle, fill the pot with hot water and let it soak for about 10 minutes (if your pot is removable, try taking the unit apart and cleaning underneath it as well).
  3. After the 10 minutes have passed, throw the water inside the pot away (if possible on some grass or houseplants), and then use a sponge with dish soap to scrub away any food residue.
  4. Rinse the soap and use baking soda paste to get rid of any tough grease spots.
  5. Scrub the pot again with your sponge and dish soap, and rinse one more time.
  6. Use a dry towel to remove all humidity from the appliance and store it away.

Note: Please remember to always scrub with the soft side of your sponge, as using the other side will certainly damage your unit’s Teflon.

As an alternative method of deep cleaning, you can also fill the cooker’s pot with a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar, and set it to cook for about 30 minutes to an hour. Once you’re done, throw away the liquid and dry with a towel.

This might leave the appliance smelling a little vinegary for a while, but it will disinfect the whole pot effectively.

#3 Relocate the Appliance

Next, let’s talk about where you’re storing your appliance, as this could be contributing to the situation.

Believe it or not, most cooking appliances out there can be greatly affected by humidity. In fact, an excess of it could not only explain why your slow cooker is smelling weird but also why it’s suddenly tripping your circuit breaker.

This might be hard to miss at first, as mild humidity will not manifest itself as droplets on the appliance or water accumulating on the pot. More often than not, it’s almost invisible, but it can even create mold on your unit’s internal components as time goes by.

I understand preventing this can be very difficult if you live in an area with high humidity, but there’s always a way around most obstacles.

Solution: One of the best ways to prevent this issue is by getting those little pellet dehumidifiers sold at most hardware stores. They’re great at keeping areas like cupboards and drawers dry. By placing one of these on your preferred appliance storage area, you’ll be ensuring that your cooker lasts a long time, and hopefully addressing the weird smells coming from it.

#4 Check the Pot for Leaks

Already using dehumidifiers, but your slow cooker is still smelling weird?

Well… in that case, there’s a chance that there’s a leak somewhere on the appliance’s pot. I know this might be hard to believe, as the material looks sturdy; however, everyday wear and tear, as well as the occasional accidental drop can create small tears in it.

Any kind of damage to the appliance’s pot could allow small particles of food to seep through, covering its internal components and stinking up your entire kitchen while you cook. After all, I doubt 2 month-old food residue smells anything but horrible!

While the tearing might be invisible at first, it’s important to remember that all materials contract under cold temperatures and expand when exposed to high heat. While your pot won’t expand as much as, say, plastic, heat can make cracks more evident and large enough to let liquids pass through.

Solution: The best way to tell whether this is your problem is by filling up your cooker’s pot with water and setting the appliance to cook for a couple of minutes.

Let the pot and the water heat up to almost boiling temperature (this is critical, as letting it boil will make it bubble all over the place, defeating the purpose of this exercise). While the water is still, look for any bubbling on the sides or the bottom of the container. If you see any, there’s your leak.

If you’re still under warranty coverage, call your manufacturer, and ask for a pot replacement. They should be able to get you a new one within a couple of weeks.

#5 Use a Different Power Source

Lastly, let’s make sure that your power sources are not to blame for this situation.

This might be an issue if your slow cooker smells like burning components, as it could not only mean that you’re plugging the appliance into a bad outlet but also that your power cord is damaged.

Either of these situations can negatively impact how the unit works, as electrical overloads will blow your thermal fuse, overheat the appliance, and trip your breakers.

A man plugging a power cord into the wall
It’s always advised to keep an eye on anything suspicious around your power sources

If you’re not familiar with household electrical wiring, the idea that wall outlets can fail might be foreign to you. And while it’s not very common, it does happen from time to time.

Solution: To address this, let’s go through every link on your power supply chain.

  1. Unplug your slow cooker from the wall outlet and let it cool down completely.
  2. Once it’s cool enough to handle, pick it up and take it to a different room in your house, preferably far from the outlet you normally use.
  3. Plug the appliance back into a new outlet, fill the pot with water, and let it cook for about 10 minutes.
  4. Check if the burning smell persists. If it doesn’t, your outlet is likely to blame.

Provided the smell is still there, chances are the power cord is failing, and is sending electrical bursts to your cooker. To test that out, please follow these steps:

  1. If your friends or family own a slow cooker, ask them to lend you their power cord temporarily.
  2. In the event that this isn’t possible, try buying a replacement at any online marketplace, they usually go for about $18.
  3. Once you have a new cable, try plugging the appliance into a wall outlet and let it cook for a while. If the smell is gone, voilà. Keep using the new cable and forget about this issue.


That about covers it.

When your slow cooker is smelling weird, a pleasant culinary experience can quickly become the worst part of your day. After all, who wants to eat after such olfactory torture?

Luckily, as I hope this piece has helped you see, there are many things you can do to address this problem. More often than not, something as simple as deep cleaning your appliance often, and keeping it somewhere dry, should do the trick.

Thank you so much for sticking with me all the way to the end. If this article piqued your interest and helped you solve the issue, you’ll be happy to know that we upload new content weekly. While we work on our latest release, I encourage you to check out our other incredible resources below to keep the learning going.

Have a great week!