Looking for a Christmas gift for an at-home foodie? Maybe you’ve been eyeing one yourself? Here’s my review of the new Ninja Foodi Digital Air Fry Oven system.
What is the Ninja Foodi Digital Air Fry Oven?
A fancy-schmancy countertop toaster oven that can air fry, air roast, air broil, bake, toast, dehydrate, and keep warm.
Is this the Chuck Norris of toaster ovens? Perhaps.
Full disclosure, I do not own a toaster oven. I didn’t think I wanted one. I rarely make toast or bagels (hey, gluten free life); and anytime I need something browned I tend to use the broil function on my oven.
However, I have been curious about an air fryer for speed-cooking vegetables on busy weeknights. Re-heated Brussels are just not the same, know what I mean?
What are the specs and components?
The Ninja Foodi Digital Air Fry Oven retails for $225. (I’m watching for a Black Friday special…) It comes with everything you need for every function. In the box: a wire rack, sheet pan, air fry basket, and crumb tray.
The instruction booklet includes a handy cheat sheet “Air Fry Cooking Chart” that lists various ingredients with preparation, temperature, and cooking times for each. It ranges from frozen food (chicken nuggets, mozzarella sticks, tater tots) to meat (burgers, wings, salmon) to vegetables (potatoes, broccoli, corn).
There’s also a cheat sheet for “How to build a sheet pan meal“. It instructs: 1. pick a protein 2. pick a vegetable 3. season/marinate 4. toss it up 5. cook (10-30 minutes) with suggestions in each category.
Note: I already notice their suggestions are quite unreasonable. I just don’t think you could fit 6 Salmon fillets + 2 medium heads broccoli onto ONE mini sheet pan.
Testing it out: Air Fry Vegetables
My first air-frying experiment was Brussel sprouts. I like them with a little crunch, but still holding some flavor. I used the Ninja Foodi Air Fry Oven Cooking Chart to prepare my sprouts.
I coated my Brussels in a bit of olive oil (1 Tbsp per 1 lb) to help crisp them up. I set the oven to Air Fry and set the temp at 390 degrees. I set the cook time for 20 minutes. (I would typically roast them longer in my oven)
One surprise: this oven preheats in less than a minute. Talk about a time saver!
Weirdly: the cook timer starts ASAP once the preheat cycle ends, so be prepared. I ended up reseting the timer once I was ready to begin cooking.
The result? Eh, I certainly need to adjust my technique. I should’ve spent more time shaking the pan and perhaps decreased the cook time slightly. These turned out a bit too crispy for my liking.
Experiment Two: Air Roasted Meat
OK, What about meat? Ninja is very keen on pushing Chicken Wings prepared in the Ninja Foodi Air Fryer Oven. And I understand why. The air fry basket allows air flow from all directions getting that perfectly crispy chicken skin with a tender, moist meat inside. There’s even a recipe included in the instructions for Honey Sriracha Lime Chicken Wings.
You’ll certainly not want to forget the sheet pan UNDER the air frying basket to catch any grease during cooking. Talk about a MESS! There is grease everywhere.
The chicken wings are tasty — but it just isn’t a food that I would regularly make at home. (The last time I cooked chicken wings was probably Super Bowl 2016 .. yeesh.)
OK, What about TOAST?
For $225 this thing better make amazing toast.
It can make up to 9 slices at once. You select the number of toasts slices and then choose a darkness level from 1-7! That’s an impressive range.
It even has a bagel setting that uses slightly less heat on the bottom.
Admittedly, I haven’t tested the toast function. Again, I’m just not into bread and certainly can’t imagine a need to toast 9 slices of bread at once. Not even 9 slices of cheese toast.
How does it bake?
To test out the bake function I decided to whip up a batch of classic chocolate chip cookies. I used the recipe on the back of the Cup-4-Cup flour (the very best gluten-free flour). I have a baseline for how these should come out.
One big pro.. The Ninja Foodi Digital Air Fry Oven is a convection oven! It’s perfect for baking cookies, brownies, and desserts because it evenly distributes heat.
I loved how fast I pulled off these cookies! This is one moment I really appreciated the extremely fast pre-heat time, quick-cooking convection heat, and square-ish sheet pan that fit 8 cookies per batch. From start-to-finish I had 18 warm cookies on a plate in about 30 minutes.
Typically, I use a silpat for oven baked cookies; sadly, my silpat doesn’t fit on the custom sized sheet pan. Instead, I used parchment paper to line the pan (as suggested) which allowed super easy cleanup.
Cookie score: 7.5/10. As rated by the construction workers building my new deck. Decent.
What other functions are useful?
There’s even a dehydrator function! The time chart says 7-8 hours for an apple. The ninja calls for 1/8 in slices. For a single person, this small space dehydrator is convenient. I’m eager to try out dehydrated BEET CHIPS! One of my all-time-favorite veggies.
Pros and Cons
Pro: Let’s talk about the cleanup. You can access the entire oven through the backdoor that allows you to deep clean all the nooks and crannies. I love this. I have only used it a few times, but it quickly accumulates crumbs.
Another of the main pros: it flips up and folds away! There’s even space for it to sit upright underneath cabinets. You do need to let it cool down a bit before you can flip it up.
It’s a bit too big to store inside a cabinet, so it would need to be a countertop staple. I like the option of flipping it out of the way in a small kitchen.
Major con: I struggle to fit certain foods in this oven. The clearance from roasting pan to top is minimal. You can see below my failed attempt to roast an average-sized spaghetti squash. It just didn’t quite fit!
Who is this ideal for?
I can see a recent college grad who doesn’t have much experience with an oven really enjoying this appliance. It is simple to master, it doesn’t take up too much space, and it’s much less intimidating.
If you (or someone you know) likes to prepare frozen foods like chicken nuggets, fish sticks, pizza, or hot pockets: this might be the appliance for them. It takes things-that-could-be-microwaved to another level without more time or effort.
Although Ninja markets this oven for a family of four, I just don’t see that as feasible. It doesn’t handle large portions, especially when air frying or air roasting vegetables like Brussel sprouts or sweet potatoes. You may be able to quickly cook batches, but I wasn’t impressed with the “sheet pan dinner” idea.
Instead, this oven may suit an individual or couple interesting in quick-cooking meals.
Final thoughts: Purchase or Pass?
In my opinion, the Instant Pot is a far superior cooking appliance (especially with the new air fryer option). I am comfortable using my oven for braising, roasting, broiling, and even toasting! I’d prefer to save my counter space for something novel.
Ultimately, I am not impressed with this Ninja Foodi Air Fryer Oven–