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- The Ninja Foodi is a super popular all-in-one appliance that rivals the Instant Pot.
- Ninja just added an indoor grill to its Foodi line: the Ninja Foodi Smart XL Pro Grill.
- Not only is it great for smokeless grilling indoors, but it also air fries, dehydrates, broils, and griddles.
While I love the flavor our outside grill produces, I seriously dislike the upkeep. And in the winter, I yearn for a way to prepare juicy chicken with beautiful grill marks without freezing my butt off in the frigid Canadian cold. Enter the Ninja Foodi Smart XL Pro Grill: an indoor, electric-powered grill and griddle that claims to give you the same deep char as a traditional gas grill (and air fry and dehydrate, to boot).
After using the Ninja Foodi Pro Grill for almost two months now, I’m pretty confident that my time on the outdoor grill may soon see its end. I’m ready to grill year-round with this handy kitchen gadget.
The first thing I noticed when unpacking the Ninja grill is how big it is. The bulky unit has a rectangular base and a dome-shaped top, providing 12 inches of cooktop space. It has seven cooking functions, including:
- Air frying
- BBQ griddling
The intuitive control panel features a backlit display, a dial, and several buttons to customize your cooking experience.
The grill also comes with a smart thermometer you can use to track the temperature of your food as it cooks. It nestles into the side of the grill when not in use.
The device has a few accessories, including a crisper basket for air frying, a flat-top griddle, and a grill grate. The grill grate clicks right into the unit base and heats up incredibly quickly. The other two accessories are designed to sit on top of the grill grates. All of the accessories are dishwasher safe.
Cooking with the grill
Arguably the best feature of this grill is the Smart Cook System. I’m a pretty good cook, but I hate babysitting meat unless it’s a Saturday evening and I have nowhere to be.
The Smart Cook System lets you put the thermometer in a piece of meat you’re cooking, input the type of meat and the desired doneness, and then the grill will shut off and alert you when the food is ready. It lets me cook a nice cut of meat without worrying about under or overcooking it while I tend to side dishes.
Every time I cooked steak on the Ninja smart grill, it came out a perfect medium-rare (my personal preference). I loved being able to flit around the kitchen to focus on other tasks — making mashed potatoes, simmering peas, preparing a mushroom sauce — while the Ninja did the work of keeping tabs on the protein.
The air frying mode also delivers in terms of performance. It produced ultra-crispy fries twice over and was incredibly easy to clean afterward. There’s enough room in the fryer basket to cook up to two pounds of food.
I used some of the other settings less frequently than the grill or air fryer mode, but they performed equally well. I used the griddle once to quickly cook up thinly sliced beef for rice bowls and it worked like a charm, though I preferred using the grill because it’s securely locked into place. The griddle accessory sits on top of the grill grates and while it’s fairly secure, it does move around slightly.
I also used the broiling setting to melt Havarti cheese on subs for dinner one night. The results were similar to using my oven’s broiler. Though I missed having a window to peep inside and make sure nothing was burning, it was easy enough to pop open the lid.
The roasting setting helped me cook a juicy pork tenderloin. This setting works much like the oven, but the benefit of the Ninja is that preheating is much quicker and you can keep tabs on meat temperature with the smart thermometer. My full-size oven actually has a built-in thermometer, but there’s no way to select a target temperature.
I didn’t use the dehydrating or baking functions but I suspect they work just as well. And just having five easy-to-use, go-to cooking functions offers plenty of value in my mind.
Another benefit of using the Ninja grill is that despite reaching high temps, it doesn’t produce clouds of smoke — something that seems to happen frequently when I cook on the stovetop. And virtually nothing gets stuck to the grill thanks to its slippery ceramic nonstick coating. You can cook with the lid open or closed. The included guide provides you with guidance on when to shut or open it.
Cons to consider
This smart indoor grill is an excellent kitchen accessory, but it’s hard to ignore how bulky it is. It’s not a device for tiny kitchens or those lacking storage space. Unless you plan to keep it on your counter, I can imagine that some people would hate dragging it in and out of storage.
But while it’s cumbersome, I personally think it’s worth the square footage it takes up.
Ninja’s marketing also boasts about a spacious cooking surface that can accommodate up to six steaks. But, the cooktop is smaller than I expected for such a large device. It works well when cooking for two, but I suspect things will get a bit crowded if you try to cook for a crowd of more than four people.
What are your alternatives?
Other indoor grilling options include:
However, the Ninja Foodi Indoor Grill is unique in its design compared to other options. Most indoor grills are built more like a panini press where you sandwich the meat between two heated plates. The Ninja’s design is more akin to a traditional outdoor grill; it has a lid, but only one cooking surface. I think this design provides more control over cooking and a more authentic grilling experience.
The Ninja also has a plethora of other settings, like air frying and dehydrating, that you don’t typically find in other indoor grills.
The bottom line
If you have the space, the Ninja Foodi XL Pro Indoor Grill is a great buy. It performs all its functions well enough that it really does act as a seven-in-one cooking device. Toss out that air fryer, toaster oven, and dehydrator because this UFO-looking grill can do it all — and by paring down on gadgets, you’ll have more room for this versatile cooking behemoth.
Pros: Smokeless operation, guided cooking using the smart thermometer, seven easy-to-use cook modes, grill or griddle with the lid open or closed, quick preheating
Cons: Heavy and difficult to store