Ninja Foodi Review
Pros: Good cooking performance, also a pressure cooker
Cons: Large lid can be difficult to clean, hard to unload fry basket, expensive
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Ninja Foodi effectively combines the abilities of a pressure cooker and an air fryer into one device, though it isn't the best performer in either category.
The Ninja Foodi excelled in all of our tests with the exception of ease of cleaning. It earned a high overall score, but those cleaning annoyances kept it away from the top of the leaderboard.
In our tests, the Foodi did a fantastic job cooking some foods, but had some struggles with others that kept it from earning a top score.
First the good: the Foodi made some of the best onion rings and doughnuts we tasted in our cooking tests. This is notable because these foods offer two very different challenges for air fryers. Onion rings ask for a thick crunchy crust (which the Foodi provided) with a cooked but moist interior (again, this device nailed it). Doughnuts on the other handle want a slightly flakey and crunchy layer on the outside (check) and a fluffy baked interior (double check).
The Foodi also performed surprisingly well in making sweet potato fries. While no air fryer was able to get a truly crisp fry, the Foodi got quite close, creating an even browning that almost implied the taste of a true french fry.
The Foodi's cooking struggles came in the form of chicken breast and tater tots. When making chicken breast it did achieve a nice crispy skin, but the interior tasted quite dry and overcooked. Tater tots also came out with a nice crisp, but difficulties in shaking the tots mid-cooking meant some were left somewhat under-cooked while others were a bit overcooked.
The Foodi has a great interface and lots of cooking options, but the pressure cooker design necessitates a fry basket that is quite difficult to get to.
The Foodi's interface is digital and has a dedicated button for each one of its cooking functions, as well as dedicated arrow buttons for adjusting the temperature and time. A large digital display lets you know what exactly is selected, and how much time is left on the timer. It's one of the most user-friendly interfaces of all the air fryers we've tested.
The difficulties of the Foodi's user experience come from its fry basket. Because this device is also a pressure cooker, the fry basket must be lowered down into the cooking chamber. This isn't too big of a deal, but if your recipe requires a mid-cook shake (as many do) things can get a little dicey. In that case, you'd have to reach two pot-holdered hands down into the chamber to grab the two tiny metal handles on the fry basket, then either do an awkward twisting motion to get things shook up, or lift the basket out completely. Neither of these options are ideal. Also, the almost comically large air fryer lid makes the Foodi one of the largest models we tested, and the device with the lid open is almost definitely not going to fit under any kitchen cabinets.
Ease of Cleaning
The Foodi received a relatively low score in our ease of cleaning tests, simply because its dual-function design necessitates some extra parts that are hard to clean.
Essentially, if you're really careful when using the Foodi and don't' get any grease on the lid, it's really easy to clean. The fry basket itself wipes down easily and doesn't really have any areas where gunk could easily hide. However, we found that ideal situation to be very rare, as we usually got at least something on the very large air frying lid. The lid (oddly) cannot be removed from the cooker unless you use a screwdriver, so cleaning it feels a bit more difficult than it should be. We usually resorted to trying to wipe it down with a damp cloth with it still attached, which is far less than ideal.
This is one area where the Ninja air frying products seem to dominate. Our testing thermometers ended up settling into the exact temperature we set the Foodi to every single time.
The Ninja Foodi's list price is quite steep when it comes to air fryers, but feels a bit more reasonable when you consider it is also a pressure cooker and dehydrator as well. However, you can often get an Instant Pot and the dedicated Ninja 1550 Watt air fryer (that also dehydrates) for less than $200, so the Foodi only really makes sense if you want all of its functions and want to save some counter or shelf space.
The Ninja Foodi operates well as a multi-faceted air fryer and pressure cooker, but you can actually get a top-shelf pressure cooker and a top-shelf air fryer for slightly less money overall.
— Max Mutter and Michelle Powell