This kitchen gadget earns its spot on your countertop
We put the Ninja Foodi Grill to the test.
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Making room for single-purpose countertop appliances is difficult in even the most organized and spacious of kitchens. So often you’ll use a product a handful of times, only to relegate the bulky one-trick pony to the closet, the attic, or even the tag sale. But products that can do more than one thing, and do them well, might be worth giving a permanent home on your countertop.
The newest device clamouring for space? The Ninja Foodi Grill, one of the newest additions to a growing ecosystem of Foodi products. In addition to grilling, it can also air fry, bake, roast, and dehydrate. Here’s the lowdown on whether it’s worth the big bucks it’s currently selling for—or whether you’d be better off with another one of our favourite indoor grills.
How does the Ninja Foodi Grill look and feel?
The Ninja Foodi Grill is big and it’s boxy—19.6 cm long by 14.6 cm wide by 15.6 cm tall. To give you an idea of just how big that is, imagine an all-in-one printer, or a very large bread box. The grill is constructed of brushed stainless steel and has a black plastic domed lid.
While this Ninja won’t win any beauty contests, it still has a nice finish and high-quality feel. It’s also quite heavy, so you won’t want to be lifting it in and out of a cabinet very often.
With the grill, you get a hefty grill grate, a crisper basket, and a cooking pot that are all coated with a ceramic nonstick finish. A cleaning brush and kebab skewers are also included.
What can the grill do?
As you might imagine, this Foodi can grill. Although it cooks with the lid closed, the lid doesn’t press down on food, so it only brands grill marks on one side at a time—if you want a panini, you’ll have to turn it over halfway through cooking. The grate leaves curved grill marks rather than straight lines on food.
What we like
- It’s well constructed.
- The digital controls are easy to read and intuitive to navigate.
- It’s excellent at grilling—and it doesn’t produce smoke.
- It also be used for air frying, roasting, baking, and dehydrating.
What we don’t like
- It’s expensive.
- It’s large.
- The preheat times for grilling are long.
- The grill marks are curved.
- There could be more cooking guidelines for some functions in the cookbook.
How does it perform?
To test the grilling function, we cooked both fresh and frozen hamburgers, chicken breasts, salmon, and strip loin steaks—and we were very impressed. The chicken and burgers looked like they could have been done on an outdoor grill. The skin on the salmon was delightfully crisp and the top well browned, even without flipping.
While the steaks didn’t rival those grilled outdoors, they came out better than many steaks broiled in an oven. Although the preheat time for grilling was about eight minutes, the food cooked quickly once on.
Our favourite part of the grilling experience? The Ninja was entirely smokeless throughout.
The Foodi Grill rivals the best air fryers we’ve tested. Both fresh and frozen fries came out close to those fast-food ones that we all find so irresistible. On most air fryers, you pull out a basket to toss and turn foods during frying, and it can be awkward to hold the basket as you work. But as the Ninja’s lid opens upwards, we found it’s very easy to access items that need to be flipped in the crisper basket.
If you don’t like turning on your oven, you can roast a small cut of meat on the Ninja Grill. A pork loin roast came out tender and juicy with a crackling crust.
In a pinch, you can even bake a cake in the Foodi Grill, as the cooking pot is large enough to hold an 8-inch pan. However, don’t expect picture-perfect results. A yellow cake came out evenly browned with a moist tender crumb, but it was seriously domed and cracked on top.
If you don’t have a full-size oven at your service and aren’t overly fussy about the way your baked goods look, this grill could be a quick way to get a homemade dessert on the table.
I was impressed with how well the Foodi Grill dehydrated, turning out apple rings that were the perfect degree of chewiness in seven hours. However, you can only fit about 18 slices onto the Foodi at a time, which yields about a cup and a half of dried apple rings.
If you love the idea of making your own dried fruits, even in small portions, and are willing to leave an appliance operating all day or overnight, you’ll be happy with the results.
Is the Ninja Foodi Grill easy to use and clean?
The digital control panel on the grill is well designed and easy to read.
We love the fact that the grill preheats automatically, but depending on the setting, the preheat time can be over eight minutes.
In the top of the lid, there’s a splatter shield that needs to be popped out after each use and cleaned. Luckily, all of the removable parts (including the shield) can go in the dishwasher. The interior and exterior of the machine don’t get particularly dirty and are easy to wipe clean.
The Ninja Foodi grill comes with a very thorough and easy-to-understand owner’s guide, as well as a booklet that contains recipes and cooking charts for grilling, air frying, and dehydrating. The only things it’s missing are guidelines for baking and roasting.
What owners say
At the time of writing this story, the Foodi Grill had a star rating of 4.8 out of more than 5,700 Amazon reviews. Reviewers rave about its grilling and air frying performance and love the fact that it’s smokeless. But they do say that it’s a “giant kitchen item” and that it’s heavy, so they needed to find a dedicated spot for it.
Is the Ninja Foodi Grill worth it?
Anyone who loves grilled foods but doesn’t have easy access to an outdoor grill will love this Ninja. It browns food a lot better than a broiler, and unlike pan grilling, won’t fill up your house with smoke. The fact that it can also air fry is a big plus. While it also roasts, bakes, and dehydrates, we wouldn’t run out and buy it for those capabilities.
You have to keep in mind that you’ll need a large space in your kitchen or a nearby pantry to accommodate this Foodi—but for good grilling, it’s worth the storage.
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.