Reviewed in the United States on September 13, 2019
WARNING- This is an IN DEPTH review of this machine to help you make an informed buying decision. If you prefer to have a summery see section marked THE BOTTOM LINE
When I first got the Ninja Foodi in as an order, I was all excited. I was dancing around the house and ran smack into a wall of ," Well, what is so great about this stupid Ninja Foodie?" I stopped dead in my tracks. I didn't really even know. I mean, when I got to thinking about it, I was not even sure why I wanted one.
When it arrived in the delivery, I took it out and almost fainted at the size. It sat like a behemoth on my stove top (on a board) and I said to myself in regret, "What have I DONE?" I stared at this machine for a few days horrified. I looked at the book and was overwhelmed. My God HOW was I going to rationalize the presence of this monster to my very skeptical family.
If you are in that position right now, or perhaps afraid to get one, let me help you out..
WHAT IS THIS LIKE?
This is one BIG machine. It is like the large round crock pots before they started making them oval and larger foot print. It has a rack with an additional rack that attaches to it. There is an inner bowl that has a ceramic coating and then an air fryer basket. It also comes with a pressure lid. I will break this down in sections for you.
There are two books. One is a small instruction manual which has basic information to help you decide what to make and how. There is also a basic cookbook which helps you start with some basic recipes.
SIZE OF MACHINE
The first consideration is size. When deciding where to put this there are things to keep in mind. You will need 16 inches minimum circumference to put this on for the machine. you will need 19 INCHES OF WIDTH for when you have the top hinged cover open.
You will need 24 INCHES OF CLEARANCE FOR LID BEING OPEN. With the machine closed it is 14 INCHES HIGH CLOSED.
When doing recipes, many of them will require you to put the pressure lid on which is not connected to the unit. You will pressure cook, release the valve, do something inside, and sometimes pressure cook again, or change to a broil setting which requires that you remove the pressure lid and place the hinged lid with the fan and heater on top to finish.
There is an air fryer basket that comes with this. It sits inside the ceramic pan so the air can circulate around.
This is using the hinged lid and is often used to finish a recipe that requires crispy topping
This is a simple task for meats etc but I prefer to use my stove for that as it is quicker for me and the machine takes longer to heat up.
STEAM, SLOW COOK, DEHYDRATE, YOGURT, BAKE
All of these settings require either of the lids and are pretty easy to do with the book.
HOW DOES THIS PERFORM?
Once I got the overwhelming appearance out of the way I decided to try something simple- frozen sweet potato fries. When I got them done, I was shocked. I have used a LOT of air fryers now and this was the best result I have gotten in any of them. There was a perfect balance of moisture and crispy when following instructions.
WHAT HAVE I MADE SO FAR?
After that, I got adventurous and decided to make other things. Here is a partial list of what we have done so far and a quick evaluation
SWEET POTATO FRIES- fantastic balance of moisture and crisp
PEACH COBBLER- peaches full of flavor and the crumble crust was fantastic
CHICKEN, RICE, VEGETABLE TRIO- it was challenging to do at first, but the result was worth it.
CHICKEN AND DUMPLINGS- Absolutely the BEST I have EVER had and we have used a lot of different methods
CAKE- done perfectly
WHAT IS NEXT?
We plan to do yogurt soon although someone lost the book so I have to go search it out in the house somewhere (not bad for skeptics, eh? Now they all want to use it- HA)
I might want to add here that we have used this for quite a few gluten free recipes and paleo and it works beautifully.
Don't do what I did and buy a few cookbooks. They all look like they were written by either A.I. or someone who barely speaks English with just typed out recipes. You would be better off looking around the internet for videos or other recipes.
AM I GLAD WE GOT THIS?
It is really big, I won't play that down. You have to have a lot of counter space and you also need to consider that you will have to be releasing steam from the pressure cooker. That means you can not have anything above the place you use it which will be damaged long term from steam being all over it.
We are going to be removing a food dehydrator after harvest season to put the Ninja Foodi in its place for the winter. It is really handy to have something which makes so many things so easily and with so much flavor. It is annoying to have to bring it out all of the time and put it away when done. It is very heavy and not easy to carry around.
So far I have to say that this is one of the coolest things we have gotten. So far, have one of the Ninja Coffee machines (which we LOVE and use CONSTANTLY) , a Shark Vacuum which is my favorite, and the original ninja chopper which we also use constantly. This is right up there with those in performance so far.
It takes up a lot of room, but it is worth it if you are cooking for two or three people max.
I will warn you, make sure you ONLY USE WOOD OR SILICONE UTENSILS ON ANY OF YOUR PANS IN THE FOODI. This coating can chip pretty easily so you want to be sure to make it last as long as possible. Be GENTLE with it when putting the different racks and air fryer container in it.
The last topic I will address is cleaning. As you may guess cleaning this is not a snap, but it is not overly difficult. You have to take the time to do it AFTER EVER USE, however. The pans can be washed. The air fryer container comes apart for easy cleaning. The top grate over the fan/element has to be wiped down carefully once cool, making sure not to leave residue of soap lest it burn later.
The pressure cover has to be cleaned as well, wiping it down and removing and cleaning gaskets too.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Although this is large and is a bit overwhelming at first to learn, it is worth every moment. This is a fabulous unit and if you treat it carefully, you can get some amazing performance from it. Be sure to use care with utensils, read instructions, and clean it every use and you will be happy you did. If you have the room to put it, this is a great unit.
FIVE HUGE STARS. I love this stupid thing and am so glad I did not let the intimidation keep me from moving ahead. The food in this is so flavorful and quick to make too. All of the raving out there is true. This is a great appliance in the kitchen, especially in hot weather when heating the oven is too much. Also, having it in addition to the stove/oven for Thanksgiving and Christmas and other holidays is a plus and helps prepare such a huge dinner more easily.