I'm always looking for reasons to talk about the Ninja Foodi 11-in-1 Smartlid Multi-Cooker because I love cooking with different whatsits and doodads and because this is my air fryer. I chose it above all others to be my best kitchen bud, my sous chef, and my culinary confidant.
After six months of road-testing this gastronomical multi-tool, it's become a staple in my kitchen and has almost completely replaced my regular cooker.
If you're looking for ways to cook lip-smackingly healthy meals for your family while being energy conscious, this might be the perfect kitchen gadget.
In this review, I'll share my thoughts on the highlights and challenges of the Ninja Foodi, what it does well, what it could do better, and if it's worth its lofty price tag.
Ninja Foodi 11-in-1 Smartlid Multi-Cooker Overview
This Ninja Foodi 11-in-1 Smartlid multi-cooker combines the functions of air fryers, steamers, and pressure cookers and is so helpful that it's put most of my other kitchen appliances on the unemployment line.
Specifications and What's in the Box
- 11 different cooking functions: Pressure Cook, Air Fry, Grill, Bake, Dehydrate, Sear/Sauté, Steam, Slow Cook, Yoghurt, Steam Air Fry, and Steam Bake
- 6-quart pot capacity
- Dimensions: 14.25" L x 16.75" W x 13.1" H
- Weight: 24.9 pounds
- Digital display and control panel
- 1750-watt heating element with precision temperature control
- Accessories include a non-stick cooking pot, a reversible cooking rack, a crisping lid, and a temperature probe.
I've used hundreds of kitchen gadgets and gizmos over the years, so I know a good one when I see it. This is one of the best.
You can feel the solid construction when you first take it out of the box. It's a sizable beast that could prove to be heavy for some people, but that only adds to its feeling of quality.
The Smartlid, buttons, and dials give reassuring thunks, clunks, and clicks when you shut, press, and turn them. Ninja did an excellent job designing a control panel that looks futuristic without being too challenging to use. In fact, it's very straightforward.
First, select one of three modes using the big fat slider on the fryer's lid (Pressure Cook, Combi-Steam, or Air Fry), and twist the central dial right or left to choose the function most suited to the dish you're about to cook.
You set the cooking time and temperature using the up and down arrows on the left and right of the LCD timer. Each click will increase or decrease by a single minute/degree, or you can jump five minutes/degrees by holding the button.
I've only had two issues in my time with the Ninja Foodi Multi-Cooker. One minor and one major
The minor issue: I have a terrible habit of tapping my utensils on the side of the cooking pot to remove any residual sauces and liquids. After doing it for six months, the non-stick coating has started to chip away.
I realize this is a me-problem, but it's worth noting if you're a utensil banger too!
But here's the biggie. After the first two months of enthusiastically air-frying everything in sight, the high-powered fan died. Stopped working. Went to the great kitchen in the sky.
I was gutted.
However, after a quick phone call to Shark/Ninja, they directed us to our nearest dealer, who promptly swapped out our recently deceased unit for a brand new one that's kept our family sampling delicious air fryer recipes at a lightning-quick pace ever since.
Ninja 11-in-1's Features & Functions
I love the Ninja 11-in-1 Foodi Smartlid Multi-Cooker's incredible versatility and the variety of dishes I can cook in one mid-sized appliance.
While there are a couple of redundant features (at least in my house), most of the cooking functions bring something different to the dinner table. The modes are split into three areas, controlled by a chunky slider button on the Smart-Lid.
Those areas are: Air Fry/Hob Mode, Pressure Cooking Mode, and Combi-Steam Mode. Here's what each one does and how it performs its dedicated task:
Air Fry/Hob Mode
- Air Fry: Despite using the word "fry," no frying takes place in this contraption. Using a high-powered fan to blast searing heat around the non-stick cooking pot and crisp plate, the Ninja gives your food a crispy exterior without the need for oil. You can also use this mode to reheat food like pizza or hotdogs.
- Grill: The Grill function uses the high heat generated by the Smartlid element to char juicy cuts of meat or hamburgers and add a hearty crunch to your vegetables with a mouth-watering smoky flavor.
- Bake: Avid bakers can use this function to produce small batches of muffins, cookies, or medium size cakes. The Bake feature uses even heat distribution to cook sweet treats to perfection. For the savory-toothed among you, 'Bake' can also be used for casseroles and one-pot lasagne.
- Dehydrate: I've never wanted to dehydrate my own ingredients, so this function isn't one I've used, but there are tons of recipes out there. It's great for drying fruits, and vegetables, making beef jerky, or treats for the family dog.
- Sear-Saute: You can use sear or sauté like a skillet to brown your meat before cooking it using another mode. Ninja designed it to create crispy meat, fish, or vegetable dishes.
- Steam: Steam cooking in the Ninja Foodi 11-in-1 Smartlid Multi-cooker makes light work of fish, vegetables, and rice while preserving its natural flavor and nutrients.
- Slow Cook: The Slow Cook function lets you simmer stews, chilis, and other slow-cooked dishes at low temperatures, allowing flavors to meld and intensify. I love slow-cooking food because of the beautifully tender results, and it lets you slow your pace down and relax in the kitchen. Maybe with a glass of wine…or two.
- Yogurt: For me, this is one of the most pointless features of the Ninja Foodi 11-in-1 Smartlid Multi-Cooker. Do people even make their own yogurt? Ninja could have implemented more valuable functions like 'Prove' or 'Steam Bread.'
Pressure Cook Mode
- Pressure Cook: Using high pressure to cook food is a super fast way to whip up meals that are so juicy it's almost like witchcraft. You can pressure cook a whole chicken in half the time it would take in an oven.
The air fryer's pressure lid locks in place and forces moisture into the ingredients to heat them. The steam release valve ensures that excess steam is released safely, though the process is ear-splittingly loud.
- Steam Air Fry: The Steam Air Fry function is a unique feature of the Ninja 11-in-1 Foodi that uses steam and hot air to cook food, resulting in crispy, golden-brown food with a juicy, tender interior. Steam Air Fry is perfect for cooking frozen foods like chicken wings, french fries, and mozzarella sticks.
I still don't understand how cooking with steam produces crispy results, yet here we are. And it's superb.
- Steam Bake: The Ninja 11-in-1 Foodi combines the power of steam and convection heat to cook food evenly and lock in moisture. This function is handy for baking bread, cakes, and other desserts. With Steam Bake, your baked goods come out moist and fluffy inside, with an audibly crunchy exterior.
What Can You Cook In The Ninja Foodi 11-in-1 Smartlid Multi-Cooker?
The easier question is, “What can’t you cook in the Ninja Foodi Smartlid 11-in-1?”. Theoretically, you can make any meal imaginable in this phenomenal multi-cooker.
Is it easier to rustle up a couple of fried eggs in a cast iron skillet? Sure. But can you perform the same task in this appliance? You betcha!
Would Yorkshire puddings be better cooked in a traditional gas oven? Maybe. But is it possible to make fluffy yet golden Yorkshires in the cooking pot? Absolutely.
This Ninja appliance is the Swiss Army Knife of cookers. Here are some of my family-favorite dishes and how I used the Ninja Foodi to whip them up in double-quick time.
Air Fried Sausages
I always thought that the quality of the ingredients 100% determined the tastiness of a meal, but even the cheapest brand of sausages come out of this appliance juicer and are more flavorsome than ever before.
They couldn’t be easier to cook, too. Whack your sausages into the crisp basket, set the the temperature to 185ºC, and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, depending on how golden brown you like your sausages.
You don’t even need to remember to turn them as the Ninja Foodi will give you a “shake reminder” halfway through.
Sausages air fried in this multi-cooker are soooooooo tasty that I only ever buy the cheapest brands anymore.
Slow Cooked One-Pot Corned Beef Hash
This dish is a family favorite, super easy to make, and a perfect winter warmer. Even a budding chef who's never made a stew can master this meal.
It's as straightforward as peeling and chopping your potatoes, chunking the corned beef, and adding it to the pot (remember to remove the crisper basket) alongside diced onion, sliced carrots, peas, 150 ml of water, and gravy granules.
Season with salt and pepper and slow cook for about five hours and serve with warm crusty buttered bread.
The good thing about using the slow cooker on the Ninja Foodi is the cavernous cooking pot gives you the option to batch-cook meals, saving you time and money.
Air Fried Crispy Chicken Breasts with Roast Potatoes & Broccoli
Not only is cooking with a Ninja air fryer good for your energy bills, but it's good for your health too. This simple chicken, potatoes, and broccoli dish can be made using only a tiny amount of oil.
Peel and chop your spuds, season with salt, pepper, and a little sage (spray with 0 cal oil for crispiness), and cook in the crisper basket for 10 minutes. While the roasties do their thing, pound your chicken breasts and season them following Downshiftology's recipe.
After 10 minutes, remove the basket, put the potatoes back into the empty pot, and insert the reversible rack. Pop your chicken breasts on top of the rack and air fry at 190ºC for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken breasts.
With 5 minutes to go, place your tender stemmed broccoli next to the potatoes and let the timer run its course.
How Do You Clean the Ninja Foodi Multi-Cooker?
I hate washing up. Who doesn't? Fortunately, this Ninja Foodi appliance is ridiculously easy to clean.
If you have a dishwasher:
- Put the air crisp basket, nesting broil rack, cooking pot, and silicone ring (found inside the air fryer lid) in your dishwasher and switch it on.
- Put your feet up.
If you're cleaning by hand:
The thing to remember when cleaning the Ninja Foodi accessories is to use a soft sponge or cleaning utensil, or you risk scratching the non-stick coating. Keeping this product clean is as easy as wiping it out with hot soapy water.
There may be times when you've overdone the pressure-cooked rice or have burnt on grease from your whole chicken, and you'll need to soak the parts for 15 mins before going to town with your soft sponge.
The only item that can be tricky to clean is the reversible rack if chunks of food get stuck in the wire, but even that is manageable to wash.
Side Note: No matter how well you clean your crisper basket, like most non-stick cookware, it will show signs of staining over time.
What I Love About The Ninja Foodi 11-in-1
- Makes even the blandest foods taste delicious
- Cooks so quickly that your family will never complain about late meals again
- Easy-to-use controls remove the frustration of using modern appliances
- Large cooking capacity for family-sized banquets
- Will save more money than it costs thanks to energy-efficient operation
- Dishwasher-safe accessories
What I Don’t Love
- Redundant cooking functions could have been replaced with something more useful
- Crisp plate stains over time
- Short power cord
- Prone to malfunction
What If You Don’t Fancy The Ninja Foodi 11-in-1 Smartlid Multi-Cooker?
Here are some alternative multi-cookers from other brands if the Ninja Foodi doesn't appeal to you or it's a little out of your price range. I've chosen three models with similar cooking methods to the Ninja Foodi 11-in-1 for pressure cooking, air frying, slow cooking, and more.
1. Philips XXL Multi-Cooker
The Philips XXL is a step up in capacity and advanced features, such as a digital touchscreen and an integrated smart preset button that memorizes your favorite settings. It uses a unique Twin TurboStar technology to remove excess fat, resulting in healthier meals.
2. Instant Vortex Multi-Cooker
The Instant Pot Vortex is a 6-quart air fryer that functions as a traditional oven that features a digital touchscreen interface and EvenCrisp technology. It offers multiple cooking functions, including air fry, roast, bake, reheat, and dehydrate. However, it may be bulky for smaller kitchens.
3. GoWISE USA 3.7-Quart Multi-Cooker
The GoWISE USA 3.7-Quart Multi-Cooker is another affordable option for those new to air frying. It offers basic functions such as air frying, baking, and roasting. It also has a digital touchscreen and a recipe book, but it doesn't have advanced features, such as the pressure cooking function
Is the Ninja Foodi Worth It?
You all know that I love this nifty appliance and its ability to produce delicious meals using 11 different functions. But with a price tag of around $300 at the time of this writing, is it worth it?
When you compare it with other multi-cookers, it looks pretty pricey (Philips XXL - $200, Instant Vortex $120, and GoWise Multi-Cooker - $60), but with 11 cooking methods, rapid cooking time that produces perfectly cooked food, the value this cooker gives back to you far outweighs the initial outlay.
My Verdict: Buy It, Buy It Now!
I have beasted the Ninja Foodi 11-in-1 Smartlid Multi-Cooker twice a day for six months.
Despite a solitary technical malfunction (which Ninja addressed and replaced within 24 hours), there hasn’t been a single test that this air fryer has not passed.
Whether you want to whip up a massive batch of chicken nuggets and fries for the kids or a Michelin-star masterpiece for a dinner party, this Ninja has your back.
One-pot stews? No problem. Rump steak and fried eggs? Easy peasy. Tender fish and crispy vegetables at the same time? It’s not even a challenge. Sure, there are a couple of functions you will never use, but they’re there in case you need them.
Once you’ve finished feeding your tribe, cleaning this air fryer couldn’t be easier. If you have a dishwasher, the clean-up operation is practically non-existent as all the accessories are dishwasher-safe, but if you don’t, even the most stubborn, burnt-on grease easily wipes away after a brief soak in some hot soapy water.
If this beautifully constructed 11-in-1 Smartlid Multi-Cooker is within your budget, I can’t think of a single reason you shouldn’t make it part of your cooking arsenal.
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