Pressure cookers can do almost anything, but they can't get foods crispy. The Ninja Foodi attempts to rectify this with a unique air crisping feature, which allows you to finish off meats and veggies with a short crisping cycle. This added feature also allows for air frying and dehydrating functions as well. If you think you'll air fry and dehydrate frequently, and like the idea of being able to get a crispy skin on your chicken, the Foodi may be a good choice. However, these extra features bring a hefty extra cost, and a few extra inconveniences that make the Foodi less pleasant to cook with than most other machines. Many people interested in pressure cookers are most tantalized by their expediency, not any sort of crisping or air flying functions. If you fall into this category, you'll likely be happier spending much less on the Instant Pot DUO60.
Ninja Foodi Review
Pros: Air crisping and dehydrating functions, good pressure cooking
Cons: Expensive, crisping lid can get in the way
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Ninja Foodi brings extra functionality to the already versatile pressure cooker model, but we found those additions to be a bit hit and miss.
Posting fairly mediocre performances in the majority of our tests, the Ninja Foodi occupies a middle-of-the-road position on our overall scoreboard.
Though the Ninja Foodi offers a well-designed control panel, the accouterments required for its various extra functions often get in the way to a somewhat ridiculous degree. This resulted in an average user friendliness score.
First the good: the Ninja Foodi offers one of the clearest and most concise control panels of all the cookers we've tested. Simple arrow buttons adjust temperature and time, and there are dedicated buttons for selecting each one of its functions. Most models needlessly complicate the control panel by having multiple settings for chicken beef, soup, etcetera, which can be helpful but for many recipes are superfluous. The Foodi cuts out all these settings, resulting in a much more streamlined control panel.
Now the bad: because of the Foodi's extra crisping/air frying/dehydrating functions it requires two different lids, one for pressure cooking and another for the aforementioned functions. The crisping lid is borderline comically large, and for some reason is permanently attached to the cooker. This mean lefties are going to have to use their right hands while stirring or sauteing. It also means the unit is far too tall to fit under the cabinets of the vast majority of kitchens.
That extra lid also means that the unit itself weighs 25 pounds, which is more than 10 pounds heavier than most other models. Basically, this machine feels a bit obtrusive in the kitchen, whereas most other pressure cookers feel like fairly space-efficient appliances.
Finally, there is no place to store the pressure cooking lid once you take it off. This means you'll either have to awkwardly hold in while you serve food, or place it on the counter and likely spill a healthy dose of condensation.
Like all of the pressure cookers we tested, the Foodi cooks pretty much all of the foods you would expect with aplomb.
In our testing, all manner of grains, soups, beans, and meats came out of the Foodi tasting quite delectable. The only relative shortcomings we could find in relation to any of the other models we tested was in its meat. The corned beef we made with the Foodi tasted very similar to the meat dishes we made in all of the other machines, but the Breville Fast Slow Pro produced just slightly more tenderness in its corned beef. However, this difference was minor and would likely only be noticed in a side-by-side comparison. The Foodi also only has low and high pressure settings. Some models offer a medium setting as well, but we haven't found that extra setting to result in any extra deliciousness.
Extra Cooking Features
We found the Foodi's dehydrating, air frying, and crisping features to be serviceable. Air frying sweet potato fries yielded similar results to high-end toaster ovens that offer air frying features. Dehydrating mangoes was as successful as it was in a dedicated dehydrator (note: the 6.5 qt with dehydrating model does not come with a dehydrating rack, it has to be purchased separately). The crisping function was also successful in getting the skin of chicken crispy.
If you think you'll be air frying or dehydrating a lot, these extra features might be worth the extra cost and hassle inherent in using the Foodi. We don't find the air crisping feature that compelling on its own, however, as we found you can get similar results by finishing off any pressure cooker meal with a bit of time in the oven.
Ease of Cleaning
Here again the Foodi lost some points due to its always-attached crisping lid.
Cleaning the pressure cooker itself is quite easy. The pot is non-stick and Ninja certifies it as dishwasher safe. We didn't have any trouble scrubbing caked on food off of it. The pressure cooking lid doesn't have too many nooks where food can hide, so it was likewise easy to scrub clean.
The big issue comes with the crisping lid. Since it's connected to the machine and has a grate that is hard to get into, it's a huge hassle to clean. Granted it doesn't get nearly as messy as the pressure cooking lid, but it does collect some grime.
The Foodi offers pretty much all of the functions you would expect from a pressure cooker, and adds air frying, crisping, and dehydrating functions. This earned it one of the highest scores in this metric.
A Full List of theNinja Foodi's Cooking Features
Pressure Cook, Steam, Slow Cook, Saute, Air Crisp, Bake, Broil, Dehydrate
Listing for around $200 (depending on which version you buy) the Ninja Foodi is double the cost of most pressure cookers. If you think you'll use the air frying or dehydrating features frequently, then it's maybe worth the cost. Otherwise, the better user experience offered by the much less expensive Instant Pot is a far better value.
The Ninja Foodi adds some novel features to the traditional pressure cooker suite, but those features make it a less convenient machine to use.
Ninja Foodi 6.5 Quart w/o Dehydrate
- Same machine but without dehydrate function
Ninja Foodi 8 Quart
- Cost: $280
- Larger capacity
- Includes dehydrate function
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata