Ninja Foodi 11-in-1 SmartLid 6 Litre Multi Cooker: A full kitchen on your counter

11 new ways to cook, at the touch of a button.

from AO
RRP  £195.00
The Ninja Multicooker sat on a kitchen counter

by Ryan Gilmore |
Updated on

Anyone who’s spent time learning to cook will know that there is more than one way to cook a meal, and the Ninja Foodi 11-in-1 SmartLid 6 Litre Multi Cooker promises 11 different cooking methods to make all culinary adventures possible. I’ve spent eight weeks testing this multicooker to see whether it’s everything you could possibly need in your kitchen or whether it’s simply too much for the average home cook.

New ways of cooking often get their moment in the sun before being locked away forever in a cupboard, only brought back out to head off to the charity shop. It’s happened with fondue sets, spiralisers and yoghurt makers. These very cool concepts end up being too limited in application to justify counter space and become kitchen fads. Perhaps by combining several gadgets into one big one, it’ll make more sense. That is the point of a multicooker.

Ninja needs no introduction; the kitchen behemoth already has a huge range of small appliances for sale, and the Foodi 11-in-1 appears to combine them all. Not only does it do the basic multicooker features like slow cooking and steaming, but other notable cooking functions include pressure cooking, air frying and steam air frying.

Ninja Foodi 11-in-1 SmartLid Multi Cooker overview


NINJA Foodi 11-in-1 SmartLid Multi-Cooker 6L Via Ninja
Price: £195

ao.com

Pros

  • Incredible cooking versatility
  • Generous capacity
  • Clever safety and ergonomic features
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • Loud fan when in use
  • Steam release valve could be refined

Who tested it?

Ryan Gilmore loves expanding his cooking abilities and enjoys nothing more than testing small appliances. Always wanting to expand his meat cooking game, the multicooker proved the perfect chance to try and explore. He's trying to build a kitchen filled with useful and quality kit, while also perfecting his coffee game one cup at a time.

How the product was tested

Over two months using the Ninja Multicooker, it was used to cook all manner of meals, from roasts and grilled meatballs, to slow-cooked chillis and even cake. It was in almost daily use to test the durability and how easily it could be cleaned.

A full kitchen on your counter

My first impressions of the Ninja are positive; it’s clearly a well-made small appliance. It may not be the latest name in style, but everything looks purposeful and simple to use. The dials and buttons are clearly marked and never feel flimsy to use. There’s a knob you twist to cycle through the settings, and the Ninja will happily ding and beep at you to clearly show when you're messing with the settings.

The roof is a heavy hinged door, made to withstand the toil of pressure cooking. It’s not dissimilar to the hatch of a submarine; a hefty thing to lift but it feels reassuringly robust and houses the vortex fan. This lid is also one of Ninja’s best innovations. While most multicookers with pressure cooking abilities give you no choice but to lock the lid in place no matter the setting, the Ninja makes use of a SmartLid Slider. This safety feature ensures the Ninja is correctly sealed for each cooking task, locking certain cooking modes to the three slider options so you'll never risk an explosion.

Inside the Ninja sits a six-litre removable non-stick basket. Ninja includes two other attachments to sit within this basket: a wire tray and Ninja’s Cook & Crisp Basket. All of these attachments are dishwasher safe, a great relief for anyone who’s had to try and manually scrub burnt residue from an older air fryer.

Pressing all the buttons

With so many cooking modes to choose from, I set about trying as many as I could to see whether performance differed at all, and how well everything would taste.

The simpler settings required no locking of the lid and all performed as you'd expect. Searing produced perfect steaks in minutes while the steaming setting locked in nutrients for vegetables. Slow cooking was a highlight, automatically swapping to a keep-warm function once the pre-set timer was reached. This meant I could leave it on throughout the day while working and not worry about the dinner either going cold or drying out from overcooking.

Air frying was as to be expected from Ninja. The vortex fan partnered with the Cook & Crisp Basket produced beautifully crisped chips, fluffy and crispy on both sides without needing to intervene during cooking. The Ninja also rather handily reminds you halfway through the cooking process to shake the air fryer, ensuring total coverage.

Pressure cooking, normally something that would strike fear into me was a joy to use with the Ninja. It won't engage until the lid is properly locked in place and once pressurised will cook beautifully tender meat in a fraction of the time it would take to roast it. It's the stand-out function for me and really elevated the Ninja as a multicooker.

At the end of each cooking cycle, cleaning couldn't be easier. Simply lift the main six-litre basket out and then give it a soak and rinse to get it looking as good as new. Even nicer, there's a small reservoir that collects the juices that get trapped in the lid during slow cooking or pressure cooking.

Any downsides?

The integrated vortex fan in the lid is loud, almost vacuum cleaner levels of loud. It's louder than my oven when in use, which limits dinner-making conversation and makes following video recipes an earbud job.

The design of the steam release valve could be improved too. It sits loosely in the lid, working as a float that’s then twisted to close. The problem I had was the notch was not large enough to be an indicator when I first went to pressure cook a ratatouille, leading to no pressure and a delayed dinner. It also lacks the automatic steam release the larger model comes with.

A tiny gripe is that the Ninja won't store both inserts with the lid closed. I've taken to keeping the Cook & Crisp Basket in the air fryer at all times and relegating the wire tray to the oven. Nothing deal-breaking, but something to bear in mind if storage is short.

Price and competition

The Ninja Foodi 11-in-1 SmartLid Multi-Cooker certainly sits at the premium end of the price sphere for multicookers. There are often a plethora of solid options available for under £100, but those won’t include pressure cooking.

Few multicookers have the versatility of the Ninja, the closest competitor being Instant Duo Crisp 8 11-in-1 Multi-Cooker. This boasts both pressure cooking and air frying functions but relies on two interchangeable lids to cope with the pressure. Other similarly specced multicookers include the Crockpot Turbo Express, which may feature pressure cooking abilities but lacks the all-important and trendy air frying feature.

Ninja also offer a 15-in-1 version in a larger 7.5-litre capacity for about £80 more. The extra cash also gets you a steam roasting setting, automatic steam release and smart meat thermometer.

Verdict

If the test of a good kitchen appliance is broadening culinary horizons, then the Ninja is hands down the best upgrade I’ve ever tested. Whereas before I'd be looking for an easy way to incorporate my oven into a meal, now I'm offered 11 ways to cook, all promising different flavours and textures. I’m trialling new ways of cooking food, taking risks and getting tasty results almost guaranteed. Case in point, I recently air-steamed a gammon joint for a Sunday roast, and the texture the Ninja created was outstanding.

It’s also replaced an entire cupboard of small appliances and made using these different features so convenient. Instead of lugging the steamer or slow cooker out, all I need to do is change the setting, and I’ll be ready to go.

The fact the Ninja does all of this while also being an excellent and straightforward gadget really makes it something I don't know how I'd cope without it. If you’re at all serious about cooking and want something that does it all without compromise, the Ninja is really worth it.

Verdict score: 5/5


NINJA Foodi 11-in-1 SmartLid Multi-Cooker 6L Via Ninja
Price: £195

ao.com

Pros

  • Incredible cooking versatility
  • Generous capacity
  • Clever safety and ergonomic features
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • Loud fan when in use
  • Steam release valve could be refined

Other products to consider

Instant Duo Crisp 8 11-in-1 Multi-Cooker & Air Fryer Via Instant Pot

The biggest competitor to the Ninja, this Instant Pot also boasts 11 settings including air frying and pressure cooking. It does lose points for the extra faff of swapping the lid over every time you do want to pressure cook.

Pros

  • Same features as the Ninja
  • Excellent build quality
  • Multiple accessories

Cons

  • You'll need to swap the lids
  • No included recipe book

Crockpot Turbo Express Pressure MulticookerVia Crockpot

The classic name for one-pot multicookers, a Crockpot really takes some beating if you're on a budget. The fact it pressure cooks at this price point is impressive, but it does miss out on the air frying abilities.

Pros

  • Pressure cooking feature included
  • 14 settings
  • Excellent value

Cons

  • Smaller capacity
  • No air frying

Ninja Foodi MAX 15-in-1 SmartLid Multi-CookerVia Ninja
Price: £265

ao.com

Like the Ninja 11-in-1 but amped up a bit, the 15-in-1 costs a little more but is even more intelligent. Expect steam roasting, a clever smart meat thermometer and even more capacity for your money.

Pros

  • Packed with clever features
  • Pressure and air frying functions remain
  • Integrated meat thermometer

Cons

  • Larger size to store
  • Still very loud

Ryan Gilmore is the Deputy Editor for A Modern Kitchen, specialising in utensils and the latest kitchen technology. Also working with cars and tools, Ryan sees a well-equipped kitchen to be no different to a well-stocked toolbox and is always on the hunt for the most ergonomic and best quality kitchenware.

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