Sometimes, after a long day, there's nothing more frustrating than realizing you *still* have to make dinner. The prep work, the actual cooking, the inevitable mess—it all adds up to a serious chore (or, if you're anything like me, an order for take-out, which unless you're rolling in dough, you can't do every.single.day).
The Ninja Foodi boasts three cooking modes, 14 functions, and all the accessories you need to make almost any meal. It's an air fryer, an oven, a stovetop, and more, all in one convenient pot. Plus, its pressure cooking mode supposedly cuts cooking time by 70 percent (anything to spend less time in the kitchen).
Oh, and the reviews online are stellar. "I have never been so impressed by an appliance ever!" one user wrote. Someone else added, "The Ninja Foodi has changed the way we cook."
I thought it sounded too good to be true—so I put the Ninja Foodi to the test. At first, I was a little nervous, since I didn't have any prior experience with pressure cookers (like the famous Instant Pot). High pressure and hot steam? No, thank you. But I was determined to give pressure cooking my best shot.
For one week, I made all of my dinners in the Foodi. And, I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised by the results. While I'm no professional chef, I was able to whip up some impressive dinners (all without even thinking about my Chipotle order!).
Curious about whether this cooker lives up to the hype? Here's my review:
So... what is the Ninja Foodi, anyway?
The Ninja Foodi is a "pressure cooker that steams and crisps," according to its description. Basically, it's an all-in-one pot.
The Foodi comes with three cooking modes: Pressure mode, SteamCrisp mode, and Air Fry/Stovetop mode. It also has 14 functions, which can make everything from loaves of bread to fresh yogurt. Here's the full list:
- Steam and crisp (for making entire meals at once)
- Steam and bake (for baking cakes and quick breads)
- Air fry
- Proof (for helping dough rise)
- Sear/sauté (for using the pot like a stovetop)
- Sous vide (for cooking food sealed in a plastic bag in a regulated water bath)
- Slow cook
- Yogurt (for pasteurizing and fermenting milk to make homemade yogurt)
- Keep warm
The Foodi also comes with a few accessories, including two racks, a separate basket for air frying, and its own cookbook.
How is it different from an Instant Pot?
The Foodi is similar to an Instant Pot in some ways—they look almost identical, to start — but there are a few key differences.
First, the Instant Pot has 13 functions, while the Ninja Foodi has 14. The Instant Pot doesn't have any baking or air frying modes, but it does have a rice cooker mode, which the Foodi doesn't (however, you can still cook rice in the Foodi).
Personally, I also prefer the screen on the Ninja Foodie because it has less buttons than the Instant Pot does. And, the screen will only light up certain choices, so you'll never be tempted to cross pick the wrong mode with the wrong function.
It's also worth nothing that the Instant Pot is much cheaper than the Foodi, by a few hundred dollars. But with the added ability to air fry, I think the Foodi is well worth it for the right type of home cook.
My week of dinners:
My goal was to work the Foodi into a regular week of dinners (meaning no special changes to my usual menu). On Monday, I started out the week strong by cooking a whole chuck roast. I threw the roast in the Foodi on a rack with some water and spices in the bottom of the pot. I was more than skeptical, but I used the pot's SteamCrisp mode and ended up with a perfect piece of meat:
On Tuesday, I tried out the pot's sauté function and made French onion soup. The pot got way hotter than I was expecting, which helped caramelize the onions quickly. Once I figured out how to adjust the heat, all that was left to do was use the broil mode to melt some cheese on top (of baguette slices, of course).
Next, I conquered my fear of pressure cooking and whipped up some chickpeas to use in a colorful chopped salad on Wednesday. I highly recommend topping your veggies of choice with this dressing from @bakedbymelissa on TikTok—trust me, it's worth the extra ingredients!
Then, on Thursday, I gave the SteamCrisp method another shot and made Caprese chicken breasts over pesto orzo. This recipe was pulled straight from the Foodi cookbook. I was nervous that the chicken and the pasta would cook unevenly, or that one would overcook, but the Foodi proved me wrong yet again.
Friday is always pizza night—but I was excited to try air frying in the Foodi. So, I chopped up some kale and topped it with my favorite seasonings, like nutritional yeast and garlic salt, and added some olive oil. I started with a massive pile of leafy greens and ended up with the perfect serving of crispy, crunchy kale chips. And, I discovered that this is absolutely the best way to eat your veggies.
The final verdict:
The Ninja Foodi is truly a powerhouse appliance. It does basically everything, from air frying to baking and even making yogurt from scratch. That being said, it's definitely not for everyone.
First, it's expensive—so if you're really just interested in one or two of the functions, like the dehydrating mode or the air frying mode, then it might be better to find a cheaper, more specialized appliance. To get your money's worth, you'll need to make a lot of meals in the Foodi.
While I found that the sheer number of modes, functions, and buttons can feel overwhelming, the Ninja Foodi cookbook has helpful tables in the back that explain exactly how to cook basically any ingredient.
The Foodi also probably isn't great for people who live in small spaces. It's large and heavy, so you'll need lots of counter space and plenty of storage space for when you're not using it. Some of the modes, like the SteamCrisp mode, can also get pretty loud—which might be annoying in a studio apartment.
If you meal prep regularly though, then the Foodi is perfect for you. It can make a large batch of food quickly (we're talking in minutes), and you can cook meats, vegetables, starches, and more all at once. It's a batch cooker's dream! And, if you're a serious home chef, the Foodi will let you experiment with all kinds of cuisine that would otherwise be difficult to make on your own.
I enjoyed using it, and though I won't pull it out for every meal, I'm already planning my next Foodi experiment—vegan mac and cheese, anyone?