Walk into any electronics or home good store, and you'll find no shortage of kitchen appliances claiming to be multiple things in one, but they rarely work out. The electric can opener with the wine cork remover never works as well as the dedicated tool, and I'm honestly embarrassed by how many times I've fallen for this. My kitchen isn't particularly big, so space is at a premium, which is difficult for someone who loves to explore new ways to cook.

With the world being positively overrun by multipurpose pressure cookers right now, Ninja caught my eye with its new Foodi cook system. On top of offering a full pressure cooker, it's also an air fryer? It sounded too good to be true, but after a little additional research, it quickly became clear this is an actual multipurpose cooking system worth a spot in my kitchen.

Cooking, contained

Ninja Foodi

Quite literally two machines in one.

Ninja is offering a high-end pressure cooker and a decent air fryer in the same gadget, with extremely simple instructions for switching from one cooking mode to the other. For those eager to save some space in the kitchen, this is the way to go.

Pros

  • Simple to use
  • Easy to clean pieces
  • No shortage of accessories
  • Consistently delivers the same experience

Cons

  • No way to store pieces you aren't using
  • No auto modes for simple cooks

Ninja Foodi What sold me

I grew up with a pressure cooker on the stove. My Mom was great at making a big batch of ribs or some cream of broccoli soup with incredible flavor and not a lot of time. The popularity of pressure cookers these days makes me super happy and knowing this has happened because modern technology has made them safer is fantastic. I love the way a modern pressure cooker will pop an alarm at you when something is burning on the bottom of the pot, or the pressure isn't being maintained. Computers have taken pressure cookers and made them microwave simple when it comes to things like eggs or steaming veggies. The difference in flavor or how fast you can cook makes all the difference in the world for families on a tight schedule or budget.

The pressure cooker mode on the Ninja Foodi is similar to the others you'll find on the market today. Insert a pot in the larger cooking vessel, fill it with the stuff you want to cook, and then use the front panel to set temperature and cook time. It's a dead-simple system, but way safer to use than pressure cookers of old. Just follow the instructions, look for a fun recipe, and start experimenting. You can choose between the standard 6.5-quart pot model or the larger (and more expensive) 8-quart model for bigger families. And, unlike most other electronic pressure cookers, both models come with a ceramic-coated pot instead of making you pay extra for it. The ceramic coating makes it significantly easier to clean, as most foods don't stick to that surface quite as easily as it does stainless steel or aluminum.

I can make an entire complex meal in this one appliance and have minimal clean up when I'm done. That alone makes it worthwhile to me.

As a standalone electronic pressure cooker, the Ninja Foodi is pretty great. It could easily combine a pressure cooker and a slow cooker into a single gadget for most folks and be a great overall experience. However, if you remove the ceramic pot and grab the other lid you'll find in the box, this cooker will also work as an air fryer. By adding a fan system to the heating element, Ninja can make it so you can drop in an air fryer basket and cook everything from frozen food to entire chickens. Because the air fryer tech doesn't rely on boiling oil to cook, the resulting foods are generally considered to be more healthy than the alternatives. That doesn't mean you can't add a little oil for flavor or even put some meat over the top of veggies, so the drippings fall and soak into the other things you're cooking. It's another level of control in the kitchen, and again generally safer to use than a traditional oil fryer.

It's worth pointing out Ninja has been extremely friendly to third parties in making accessories for the Foodi already, which is great. A quick search revealed third party steam diverters, silicone slings to easily transport hot pots around the kitchen, and even cake pans so you can bake directly in this cooker. Ninja itself makes a bunch of other accessories as well, including a skewer stand and additional airflow stands for less traditional cooking techniques. In that short collection, I learned about at least three other ways to cook with this thing that I otherwise never would have even bothered to think about. By being so friendly toward other accessory makers, Ninjas has ensured a vibrant community of home cooks will share all kinds of recipes just for this thing. And trust me, they do.

Easily my favorite thing about the entire experience Ninja is creating here is the ease with which you can clean the entire thing. The ceramic-coated pot, for when you're pressure or slow cooking, can be tossed right in the dishwasher. Plus, the air fryer mode is super easy to wipe out when you're finished using it. The two lids included in the package are also simple to clean, which is essential when if you're like me and try to make multiple meals a week in a pressure cooker and don't have a ton of time. I can make an entire elaborate meal in this one appliance and have minimal clean up when I'm done. That alone makes it worthwhile to me.

Ninja Foodi What could be better

Out of the box, Ninja gives you quite a bit. Where your average electronic pressure cooker will have a single lid and maybe a steam tray, the Foodi comes with two huge lids and several other necessary accessories. You need to be able to store the parts you aren't using separately. You can't just fit everything in the Foodi when you aren't using it. And the box itself doesn't include a great way to store any of these accessories safely. I'd have preferred a fabric case of some kind for these extra pieces, so when they aren't in use, I don't have to worry about them getting dirty. If I don't use the air fryer mode for a couple of months, for example, because it's summer and I'm going to want to be out on my grill instead, I'm going to need to sterilize that lid before I use it because it's not in a protective case of some kind.

Ninja's Foodi cooker has demonstrated the ability to do a lot of things very well, which is fairly unique in this space.

I'm also not overly fond of the interface on the front of the Ninja Foodi. While Ninja gets all the credit in the world for adding safety features to great cooking techniques and offering a simple interface for getting started, the overall experience is a little lacking. I can set a temperature and a time, but there are no auto-presets for things that are just always going to cook in the exact same way. Eggs are a perfect example; I love cooking eggs in a pressure cooker because it better separates the membrane and makes removing the shell just a little bit easier. This is why, on many electronic pressure cookers, there's just a button for eggs. It's almost like a microwave popcorn button, but there are no quick preset buttons on the Ninja Foodi. Instead, I've found myself looking up more generic recipes and taking note of temperature averages so I can figure out a quick setting I can make for myself. This is fine, all things considered, but not quite as straightforward and user-friendly as many competing pressure cookers right now.

This isn't an actual complaint so much as an observation, but it would also be cool if Ninja set itself apart by making these available in a few colors. Every electronic cooker out there is either glossy black or silver with black accents. Stand out, Ninja. Be bold. Get some color options here. I would love a deep blue for this thing I plan to use all the time and present clearly in my kitchen for the world to see. If this gadget is going to be as important to me as my stand mixer, it should have some personality like my bright blue stand mixer.

Ninja Foodi: Is this for you? I think so

There are a ton of electronic pressure cookers on the market today, some with way more name recognition than others. But what makes any of these the right thing for you is the way you're going to use it, and that includes frequency. If you're a casual home cook and are enjoying the novelty, you may be excited by price more than features. If you're not extremely confident in your abilities as a home cook, you may prefer convenience over things like raw power or a ton of features.

Ninja's Foodi cooker has demonstrated the ability to do a lot of things very well, which is fairly unique in this space. By adding in a functional air fryer in a way that can function as a standalone device when you have it set up that way, this becomes more about space-saving and cleaning convenience than anything else. Air fryers can be extremely useful when they're powerful enough to cook big things, and this is exactly that. And if you're struggling to find space on your counters for multiple quality gadgets, being able to consolidate into a single appliance is extremely valuable.

Cooking, contained

Ninja Foodi

Quite literally two machines in one.

Ninja is offering a high-end pressure cooker and a decent air fryer in the same gadget, with extremely simple instructions for switching from one cooking mode to the other. For those eager to save some space in the kitchen, this is the way to go.

Editor's Note: We're very excited to get our hands on the Ninja Foodi, so keep your eyes peeled for our full review soon!

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