Hello keto fam! I stumbled across a pretty crazy veterans day deal at Kohls that allowed me to get the Ninja Foodi 6.5qt tendercrisp multi cooker for $130 so I decided to pick one up as it seemed like a great appliance. I’ve been using it for about the last 5 months now and I wanted to share my experience with it because it’s really something unique.
What is it?
The Foodi is a sort of hybrid air fryer and electric pressure cooker with the added functions of dehydrator, broiler, and oven built in. It is a countertop appliance rated at 1400 watts and has an MSRP of $280. Typical pricing seems to be around $180-200 right now.
What’s in the box
It comes with one hinged permanently-attached lid for dry heat applications and one removable lid for pressure cooking applications, an invertable trivet with handles that make removal easy, an air frying basket, and a non-stick coated main cooking pot. It also comes with a small recipe book and easy to follow user’s guide as well as a cheat sheet for cooking common foods.
It’s quite large compared to my 6 quart instant pot. It has a handle on either side so it’s easy enough to transport around but it would probably be difficult to find a place for this to live if you didn’t want it permanently on the counter. I don’t think it’s as attractive as the stainless steel and black Instant Pot.
Also all of the accessories do not fit inside of it at the same time, which is sort of annoying. The frying basket lives inside the cooking pot and the lid closes on that, but you have to find extra space for the broiling/steaming trivet and pressure cooking lid.
The cooking pot seems to be lower and wider than the one in the instant pot, which is convenient for large cuts of meat like beef chuck, whole chickens, or pork shoulders.
First test: pork belly
I had a small slab of pastured pork belly in my freezer forever so I decided to give it a go. I scored the skin in a diamond pattern, rubbed with soy sauce, salt, and chinese five spice, and pressure cooked on high for 45 minutes. I then air fried at 400f for 15 minutes. The results were outstanding. The skin was crispy and dry, the meat was tender and juicy, and the whole process from frozen took an hour.
Second test: chicken wings
This has a recipe in the booklet that says to lightly oil and salt 2lb wings then air fry at 390 for 24-26 minutes. I did this and found they really weren’t crispy enough. I did a second batch at 400f for 28 minutes and they were golden brown and delicious. These were fresh from the package and I did not dry brine the skin as I normally would if i were going for the optimal wing experience.
Third test: Pork picnic roast, skin on
Pork shoulder roast also has a recipe in the booklet and it states to pressure cook on high for 90 minutes. I scored the skin of the roast in a diamond pattern, removed the small amount of skin that would not be facing up toward the heating element, and rubbed the whole roast with salt, pepper, and garlic. After the 90 minute cook was complete I removed the pressure cooking lid and set down the air frying lid. I noticed one small issue: The air frying lid actually sits slightly lower than the pressure cooking lid, which is domed on the inside. This caused the air frying lid to make contact with the roast. I trimmed off the small part that was making contact and air fried for 20 minutes on 400f.
THIS is where the machine really shined. a 6.5 pound pork roast cooked to fall apart tender with a crispy skin start to finish in under 2 hours? Really great stuff. And the standard nonstick cooking pot makes cleanup easier than the stainless steel pot in my Instant Pot.
Fourth Test: Untrimmed New York Striploin Steak
Many people talk about steak in an air fryer so I decided to give it a try. My local grocery store had whole untrimmed striploins for cheap and I cut them myself into ~1.25 inch thick steaks with a 0.5+ inch thick fat cap along the edge.
I fried at 400F for 10 minutes, flipping at 5 minutes. Cooked two steaks at once.
The fat cap was beautifully rendered and had a great crispy outside, probably the best fat rendering of any cooking method i’ve done so far. The steak itself, however, was slightly overcooked and finished at what I would call medium when I prefer something more on the rare side. That said, it produced no smell or smoke, didn’t heat up the kitchen, and was absolutely delicious. I may try cooking a steak straight from the freezer next time to see how that goes.
This is a great machine, assuming it holds up under use. I’ve heard mixed reviews about Ninja as a company for the reliability of their equipment. It certainly feels well made but we’ll see. I think this is a great option for people who have limited space in their kitchen or may find their oven occupied with other things when cooking for large numbers of people like in family gatherings. For large cuts of meat, I find it hard to think of a better appliance to cook in and I’m frankly kind of surprised that Instant Pot doesn’t have a similar offering though I have to imagine they will soon.
The recipe book also has some interesting applications of the machine, such as cooking a starch like mashed potatoes/rice/quinoa/whatever under pressure first, then putting on the broiling rack and putting meat and vegetables on that to roast under high direct heat so you can have a complete meal in one pot with multiple cooking methods employed. It’s a clever machine!