You may have been seeing the Ninja Foodi Max 9-in-1 Multi Cooker advertised on TV, or on sale over the Black Friday period. If so, it is possible you wonder what it is exactly, and why you (and all the people who snapped up a sales deal on it) would want one. Well, before I wax lyrical about how much I love this kitchen helper, let's explain what it is for.
The Ninja Foodi Max 9-in-1 Multi Cooker is the largest model in the Ninja Food multi cooker family. For those who aren't familiar with multi cookers, they are what you would expect from the name – a kitchen appliance that offers a variety of cooking functions. This model has more cooking capabilities than the other Ninja Foodi multi cookers, and more than most of its competitors. From slow cook, to air crisp, roast and pressure cook, it means you can cook a variety of foods in it and hopefully clear a few single-use appliances from your kitchen countertops.
I tested it out this summer to see just how good it was at the various functions and whether it would serve as a replacement for my other appliances. Before we start, I should explain that I do a lot of batch cooking, but was generally using it to cook for two of us. Also, as a vegetarian, I didn't get to put it to the test on any meat – no roasting that 3kg chicken the product description boasts about. Read on to find out how this handy kitchen assistant saved me time and effort, and whether it could be an upgrade if you were considering buying the best pressure cooker.
Ninja Foodi Max 9-in-1 Multi Cooker specification:
- Cooking functions: 9 – pressure, slow cook, air crisp, dehydrate, bake/roast, grill, sauté, steam and yoghurt
- Volume: 7.5L
- Weight: 11.3kg
- Dimensions: 35 x 42 x 38 cm
- Cord length: 0.8m
- Cleaning: dishwasher safe pot and accessories, wipe clean exterior
- Colour: black
Who will the Ninja Foodi Max suit?
Keen cooks who struggle for time, but not ideas. It is so versatile and is also great for giving you the function of several appliances, without needing the kitchen space for them all. This capacity is perfect for families and although the unit is quite big, it is a great choice for smaller kitchens if you are struggling to choose between a fryer, slow cooker and steamer and only have room for one. You can even use it in place of your hob and oven.
First impressions: what's in the box?
The Ninja Food Max 9-in-1 Multi Cooker comes with all the attachments you need for the basic functions. It comes with the built-in lid (used for crisping, roasting and other functions that include browning), then there is a secondary lid to be used for slow cooking and pressure settings which is fitted to the unit when the main lid is open. You also get two racks that fit together to make a two-tier stand for grilling, dehydrating and roasting. One is reversible so you can use each alone, or paired to create a variety of levels to cook on.
The main unit includes a removable cooking pot that is used for all functions – the Ninja Foodi Max won't operate unless the pot is present. Then, you get a cook and crisp basket that sits inside the pot for 'frying' food. Ninja Kitchen accessories can be bought for the Foodi Max on their website – including a glass pot lid, loaf tin and muffin mould – plus any replacement parts you might need.
When you take everything out of the box it looks like a lot to store away, but I have kept all parts but the pressure lid and racks in the unit. While the pressure lid is quite chunky, it will go easily in a drawer or cupboard with the racks. Overall, the Foodi Max is not a bad piece of kit to look at. Sure, it is rather imposing on a worktop and quite high, but the footprint is similar to your larger slow cooker. In a stylish black and silver finish it would fit in with the style of most kitchens – a good job since being quite weighty, you will be keeping this out rather than moving to and from a cupboard.
Before first use, the cooking pot and other removable attachments need a quick wash with warm soapy water. The pressure lid needs to be washed carefully and allowed to dry thoroughly to prevent anything blocking the vent.
To get started, you just need to fit the cooking pot, then what you do next will depend on which cooking function you are using. It is recommended that you use the pressure setting with just water to start, to get a feel for how it works, so I did that on my first use. It also gave the pot and lid a good blast of heat so I was 100 per cent sure it was fully sanitised before I started eating anything made in it.
For this test, I opened the main lid, filled the pot with some cool water and attached the pressure lid. This has an arrow to show you where to place it and a lock symbol to mark where the lid needs to be twisted to. You also know the lid is on properly when the handle is positioned side to side on the pot rather than top to bottom.
The controls are on the front. There is a dial and buttons for selecting function, temperature and time. In most instances, you click function first, turn the dial until the LED lands on the cook style you need, then you press 'temp', followed by time, turning the dial each go to set the desired numbers. These are displayed on the LED screen so you can easily set what you need. Once chosen, you press the dial in and it starts the cooker. A countdown timer shows how long is left for your cooking process, and this will pause when you open the lid in functions that work with the lid down.
Ease of use
As mentioned, the dial and buttons are easy to use once you know what order to press them in. You always need to remember to choose the function first and then you can't go far wrong.
The multi-cooker has nine cooking functions. Some use the pressure cooker lid, sauté and sear are used with no lid and the rest of the options need the main lid which has a built in grill to heat from above. There is more info on each cooking function below, but I found that once I had used a function with the pressure lid, and one without, the rest was easy to follow and the settings were easy to adapt my cooking to.
When cooking ends, the Ninja beeps to alert you, then switches to keep warm mode to stop your meal from going cold. If you find the food needs longer, you just follow the process to start cooking by selecting the function, temperature and time again.
What is the Ninja Foodi Max best for?
5 things I cook the most in my Ninja Foodi
1. Sourdough – about once a week. It gives such an even bake.
2. Casseroles – sauté your onions, add the rest of the ingredients, then pressure cook to have a stew in no time.
3. Chips/wedges – for small portions I use the air crisp basket, but chunky chips cook really well in the main pot on the roast setting. (We also reheat chippy chips in it).
4. Pasta bakes – I cook the pasta on the hob, but make my sauce on the sauté setting then add pasta and cheese for an easy meal.
5. Freezer nibbles – much quicker than cranking the oven for a few (veggie) nuggets.
The bake function has impressed me the most and I will be investing in some of the loaf and cake tins to give a bit myself more versatility while baking. It was also a relief to be able to roast without putting the oven on in the height of summer. Yes, the Ninja Foodi Max does generate heat, but nothing compared to a standard oven so it won't turn your kitchen into a sauna.
The pressure cooker function can't be faulted, even if I can't see myself using it that often. I love how this and other functions like sauté give lots of scope for one pot meals. And as the pot is dishwasher friendly it is a real time saver in many ways.
If you enjoy lots of stews or roasted meats it is sure to get plenty of use, but for those who are less keen on cooking, it also cooks frozen foods. With the air crisp basket it has definitely been designed with chicken wing fans in mind – many online reviewers have swapped from deep frying their wings to cooking them in the Ninja Foodi. This is one of the many reasons it is great for people who are time poor, but trying hard to make healthier dietary choices.
Anything it doesn't do so well?
For slow cooking you really need to do everything on 'high' as low is not hot enough to get large volumes of food simmering away. I think the low setting is designed for yoghurt, so that is why it isn't as hot, but if you cook on high everything comes out as well as it would in an actual slow cooker.
The only other thing I would flag is that the Ninja Foodi Max comes with a recipe book – great if you are new to multi cookers and need ideas of things to cook in there and cooking times. At the end of the cookbook there are grids showing the settings and times for a load of common foods and this was really helpful.
However, I would suggest exercising caution with the actual recipe section and use your common sense. I made the mac and cheese and I am not sure if it was a typo, but it called for three tablespoons of salt. Now I love salty food, but I thought that may be a bit much, especially after the recipe asked me to pressure cook the pasta on a mix of bicarb, lemon juice and water. I decided to only put two tablespoons of salt in, still sure that was too much, and I was right. It was inedible. And, I had already been slightly put off by the foamy liquid left from the pasta. We ended up chucking it all away, but I will definitely try it with my own recipe because being able to do a one pot mac and cheese – and grill the top to crispy loveliness – is a winner for me.
I was slightly terrified of using a pressure cooker, having heard horror stories of them from the 50s and 60s. However, the modern pressure cooker has been designed to avoid these risks, and the Ninja Foodi Max is no different. It will only allow you to open it once the pressure has dropped and it is safe to do so. The pressure cooker was easy to use on set up and I have only used it once for cooking since. The key is remembering to close the vent (the float vent it left open for slow cooking) during cooking and then you just have to wait until it has finished cooking and depressurising for next steps.
As intended, the pressure cooker cuts cooking time by up to 70% and the pasta I cooked in it for mac and cheese took no cooking time, just the time it took for the machine to reach pressure. It does this then starts the cooking countdown so for the pasta I had to set the timer to zero.
When I cooked water in it, it let out a clean steam. The starchy pasta water was a little messier, bubbling out of the vent slightly as the pressure escaped. Nothing too arduous to clean, but the top of the cooker did need a wipe down after.
I can see how this is really for cooking meat and would greatly reduced the time needed to cook a big joint, which you could then roast in the same pot by swapping the pressure lid for the standard attached lid.
I was most excited to check the Ninja's slow cooking skills to see if this all-in-one could be a replacement for my existing slow cooker. While I would say a dedicated slow cooker is better as they have a thicker pot that retains heat more effectively, the multi cooker does a fab job of slow cooked veggie chilli, soup and casseroles – good enough for me to put my Crockpot into storage. The low temp is a bit too low for what I needed so I cooked everything on high and the results were great.
This setting did trigger a bit of a giggle when I saw it listed as a cooking function, but it is true, you can use it to make yoghurt. I have not tried it, but the instructions show how you can take a bit of live yogurt, mix with milk, and after a few hours on a low heat, you get more yoghurt. This certainly makes more sense than buying a special yoghurt maker and I intend to give it a go at some point, instead of buying my usual two pots a week.
If you love steamed fish and veggies then the Ninja Foodi cooks them quickly at high heat, maintaining nutrients. You just have to put a bit of water in the pot, place the rack in and put your food on it – out of reach of the water – then add the pressure cooker lid. I have used this a couple of times and recommend setting the timer for slightly less time than the instructions recommend if you like a bit of crunch to your veg. Again, a nice function to have that saves the need for steaming baskets or a steaming appliance.
I have used this setting a lot and it is great for softening onions and garlic before adding the rest of the ingredients to the main pot for a casserole or chilli. It can also be used for browning meat for your stew. You can choose from low, low-medium, medium, medium-high and high heats offering you almost as much control as your standard hob. It distributes heat evenly and doesn't make the room as warm or steamy as cooking on the stove top would. Used in conjunction with the slow cooker, this is a time saving way to cook that cuts washing up, too. Win win.
The Ninja Foodi Max can act as a small oven, managing temperatures up to 200ºC, so gas mark 6–7. You can preheat it for a bit before adding ingredients if you like, but it comes to temperature really quickly. I used to it to roast parsnips for a soup, and made potato wedges in it, but the thing it surprised me with the most was how good it is for cooking bread. Like everyone else, lockdown has turned me into a sourdough obsessed baker and the Ninja Foodi does a great job of baking bread. There are no cold spots in this multi cooker, so the bread came out evenly baked every time. Others sing its praises for cooking joints of meat too – tender on the inside but crispy and well-browned on the outside.
The Ninja Foodi Max comes with an air crisp basket and air crisp setting for healthier fried food. It should be noted that unlike a specialist air fryer , this won't turn your food automatically. That is not a major problem however – it is very easy to put your chosen ingredient in the air crisp basket and open every few minutes to give them a stir with a wooden spoon. Chips and sweet potato fries turned out great, though the chips were more similar to when you oven bake them. That said, for a healthier option they were great and we also found the air crisp setting was perfect for cooking frozen chips. Top hack though? The air crisp is amazing at re-crisping chip shop chips that have gone a bit soggy in the chip paper on the journey home.
It took me a while to find something to test this setting, but some slightly-past-their-best cherry tomatoes ended up being the perfect candidate. Again, this feature is so easy to use. You just need to finely slice your chosen food then sit on the racks and set to dehydrate. My cherry tomatoes took about five hours, but I was left with lovely, intensely tomato flavoured treats to add to pizzas, pasta or just eat as a snack.
As mentioned before, the main lid has a built-in grill that heats the food from above. This is great for meat and fish, but I found it was brilliant for finishing anything with a cheesy topping like a pasta bake. The heat is more focussed and intense than you might get from a grill in an oven so it really doesn't take long at all. You can use the grill rack for cooking things like steak closer to the heat source, or just brown the top of whatever you have in the cooking pot.
Cleaning the Ninja Food Max 9-in-1 Multi Cooker
Everything but the actual cooker is dishwasher friendly. The racks, crisper basket, pot, pressure lid and many of the accessories that you can buy as extras can all be cleaned in a dishwasher. The pot and basket have a non-stick coating so clean up is pretty easy. The exterior should be wiped as soon as any spillages occur, then a once over with a damp cloth every week is sufficient.
What I have found harder to clean is the grill inside the main lid. This gets quite sticky with fat after use of the air fryer and can be hard to clean as it can't be soaked. However, a quick Google search led me to a video of a woman cleaning hers with nature's favourite cleaner – lemon. Just half fill the pot with water and throw in a halved lemon, squeezing the juice as you add it. Switch the cooker to sauté or slow cook (anything to bring the lemon and water to a boil), then turn off and leave the lid closed as the steam works its magic. It didn't get rid of all of the fat, but doing this after every few uses is a good way to keep on top of burnt on fat.
How does it rate online?
The Ninja Foodi Max 9-in-1 Multi Cooker gets an average rating of 4.8 stars out of five on the Ninja site. Reviewers agree it cuts time spent cooking and is very easy to use. Here I found reviews from people who had roasted whole chickens and joints of meat in it, all agreeing the multi cooker leaves meat crisp yet juicy. Being able to make a stew in less than half an hour is great, and many use it for cooking everyday.
It was just shy of five stars on Amazon two, where users said it did everything they needed and loved the large capacity. A couple pointed out something I hadn't considered initially – it needs a lot of head height for use in sear/sauté with the lid open and should not be too close to wall units as the steam release will damage them. I have a worktop with nothing above, so have used it there but you will need to consider placement before you buy.
How does it compare to other multi cookers?
There are several well known multi cookers available for about half the price of this model, including those from Crockpot, Tefal and Instantpot. However, most are lower capacity and have lower star ratings that the Ninja Foodi Max. Some claim to have more cooking functions with a few boasting 12-in-1 but they seem to be as flexible with what counts as a function as Ninja in this case, with soup and risotto counting – both of which the Ninja can do with its sauté, pressure and slow cook settings. Finally, very few have the grill, roast and air crisp options built in, meaning they can cook by methods of conduction and convection, but not radiation. So, you can make a casserole, but not give it a crispy potato topping like you can with the Ninja Foodi Max. For the wider range of things you can cook in the Ninja – and the fact is acts as hob, oven and pressure cooker in one – I think it is definitely a good investment.
If you want the functionality of several appliances but only have room for one big piece of kit, the Ninja Foodi Max 9-in-1 Multi Cooker should definitely be it. It needs a fair bit of worktop space but can replace your slow cooker, air fryer, pressure cooker and can be used in place of a rice cooker and even your hob and oven too. And, the space it takes up will be worth it, as this versatile appliance is sure to get a lot of use. Our top tip? Buy a second pot online so you never have to wait while you wash it and it may well replace many of your oven or hob cooked meals.
All in all, none of the negatives (even the dodgy recipes) are enough to mark it down, so it gets full marks from us.
About our reviews and our reviewer
We conduct our reviews in the home where they face the usual demands of daily life. Each appliance will be used for at least a fortnight, and we try to test every function and setting it has to offer. Where we are able to keep the appliance for longer, we update our reviews over time with any new features we have found, or issues that may arise.
Lindsey Davis who tested the Ninja Foodi Max 9-in-1 is Associate Editor on Realhomes.com and spends her working day making sure people can find the right products for their home. At home, she loves to cook (and bake) so is always keen to test out the latest kitchen gear. She has a small kitchen, so finding products that are big on impact but will save space in some way is key.