There’s not a lot this over-achieving appliance can’t do when it comes to preparing meals, snacks, and bakes – and it does it all with speed, efficient use of energy, and great results to boot.
More energy efficient than many ovens
Dishwasher safe accessories
Large enough to feed a family of four
Relatively large footprint
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In our expert Ninja Foodi 11-in-1 SmartLid multi-cooker review, our tester evaluated the popular kitchen appliance’s performance by cooking with it for a few days, to get a feel for its efficiency, ease of use, value-for-money and overall practicality. Here is what she thought of the countertop cooker.
Ninja has become well known in recent years for its small kitchen appliances – namely the best ninja air fryers, but it also makes everything from blenders to mini-ovens and ice cream makers. It aims to engineer efficient and dependable products that make our culinary endeavors that bit easier and will weather the storms that are cooked up in busy home kitchens.
The brand bills its products as premium and while many of them would be considered fairly hefty investments, most of Ninja’s prices lean more towards high street than high-end.
Capacity: 6 L
Size: H33cm x 35cm x 36cm
Number of cooking functions: 11
Warranty: 1 year
Ninja doesn’t go in for one trick ponies – its appliances are hardworking, often having multiple functions. But the 11-in-1 Multi-cooker takes this diverse functionality to the next level and all but promises to outdo your oven when it comes to versatility and efficiency – something that’s more desirable than ever as energy prices continue to rise.
As Ninja claims to be the UK’s bestselling multicooker brand, we put this (its newest multi-cooker) to the test over the course of a week. Our aim was to see if it really could put our conventional cooking appliances to shame and earn its place on our countertop.
Our review of the Ninja 11-in-1 Smartlid Multi-cooker
What is it like to cook with?
Released in 2021 (along with its pricier 15-in-1 sibling), the Ninja Foodi 11-in-1 SmartLid Multi-cooker sets itself apart from older models in a few ways. Alongside the increase in functionality and markup in terms of energy efficiency (this one claims to be able to cut your energy spend by 65%, as opposed to the former models’ 40%), we quickly noticed a few practical touches that make the appliance easier to use, too.
The SmartLid has a slider that makes moving between the three main modes of Pressure Cook, Combi-Steam, and Air Fry/Hob (underneath which there are several different sub-functions, which are selected using a dial) super easy. It’s also cleverly designed to hinge at the side, with a tab for lifting at the front. This not only meant we didn’t have a loose lid to find space for on our crowded work surface when we wanted to stir or add ingredients, but also that we were never in any danger of being scalded by heat or steam when we opened it, as our arm didn’t need to pass over the hot bowl.
The lid can be opened at any point throughout cooking and, when using functions that require intense heat (such as air frying), we noticed the appliance automatically pauses until it’s replaced, saving energy as well as improving safety.
It’s a hefty piece of kit with a significant footprint – although, when you consider how large standalone air fryers and slow cookers can be, its size isn’t unreasonable. Then there’s the pay-off is a six-liter capacity and ample utility. It can be used to:
- Air fry
- Steam air fry
- Steam bake
- Sear and saute
- Slow Cook
- Pressure cook
- Make yoghurt
We found it easy to switch between functions using the slider and then the dial. And we also liked the fact you can increase cooking time at any point too, as opposed to having to reprogramme. The digital display, while not super-futuristic, is clear and easy to understand.
In addition to air fryers offering a healthy way to cook fried food, the best air fryers also favored for their speed and modest energy consumption. We made a jacket spud in 45 minutes using this function – it had already started to tenderize and crisp up on the outside after just seven minutes. And thanks to the decent capacity, we easily cooked a family meal of homemade breaded fish and chips for three in about 25 minutes, too.
The great thing about slow cooking in this multi-cooker, we found, is that it truly is a one-pot scenario. See, a lot of slow-cooker recipes require you to sear or saute ingredients first, which can defeat the whole object if you’re looking to minimize faff and washing up. Here though, you can sear or saute your ingredients in the cooking pot, before simply switching modes to slow cook. We made a smoky slow-cooked chili this way with zero fuss and the textures were spot-on and flavor-rich.
Does it come with accessories?
The multi-cooker comes with three accessories: a six-liter cooking pot, a basket for air frying, and a reversible rack. These allowed us to make full use of all the different functions and are designed for cooking different elements of a meal all at the same time. For instance, the rack fits snugly into the pot, meaning you can cook grains, veg, or sauce in the bottom of the pot, and the protein above sat on the wire rack.
What can you cook in the Ninja Foodi 11-in-1 Smartlid Multi-cooker?
Put it this way: we challenge you to find something you can’t cook in this multifunctional appliance. From cakes, doughnuts, and fruit crisps to pies, stews, pasta dishes, and roast joints (yep, you can cook a whole roast in here – there’s even room for a whole chicken), it’s all doable, thanks to the various functions and accessories.
It comes with a booklet of recipes to get you going too, which has handy cooking charts in the back to help you work out how to prep various veggies, fruits, meats, and grains.
Who is the Ninja Foodi 11-in-1 Multi-cooker best for?
If you’re cooking for one, it often doesn’t make financial sense to heat up an entire oven. And while forking out for a pricey multi-cooker might not promise overall savings in the short term, it might well make economic sense in the longer term, not to mention slash cooking times.
It’s not just for those who only need to feed themselves, though. While this countertop appliance will never be able to rival a full-size oven in terms of capacity, it can still feed a family. Using air fryer mode, we prepared enough food for four in the basket insert, while portion numbers increased when we used the slow cooker function, thanks to the six-liter pot.
Of course, standalone air fryers, slow cookers, and pressure cookers are much cheaper than this does-it-all piece of kit – but if you often use more than one of them, the price – not to mention the amount of kitchen space they take up – can start to spiral.
Speaking of which, if your organized kitchen countertop (opens in new tab) is already at capacity and you’d have nowhere to store a roughly 35cm square lump of metal, it’s worth really considering whether you’d really use it to its full potential. If not, a smaller, single-function appliance like a compact slow cooker or mini air fryer might be the way to go instead.
Does the model have any unique features?
We all know that multi-cookers are not a new concept. Ninja itself has older versions and there’s a proliferation of other brands that have appliances that promise to speed up and slow down food prep with both pressure cooking and slow cooking functions, as well as saute capabilities. Not many, though, can rival Ninja’s latest release in terms of the number of functions and variety of foods that can be prepared in it.
How easy was it to clean?
When it comes to cleaning this air fryer multi cooker it's an easy job. All the removable accessories – the pot, basket, and rack – are dishwasher safe, as is the silicone seal in the lid, which is easy to take out (although it took us a little while to get the hang of replacing it once cleaned). We’ve bunged them in the machine for several cycles and they’re still looking good as new. If you’re handwashing – or trying to remove stubborn, burnt-on food – just don’t reach for a scourer. Stick to natural or nylon, non-scratch sponges and brushes.
Is the Ninja 11-in-1 Smartlid Multi-cooker good value for money?
As we’ve mentioned, if you’re wondering if the cost of a multicooker will be offset by savings on your energy bill this winter, the reality is that you’re unlikely to save more than the cost of the machine in electricity or gas. That said, we still think it’s a sound investment – and for more reasons than its economical virtues.
Not only can you use it to make everything from fried chicken to a Victoria sponge, but it cuts cooking time, minimizes washing up, and can slash the need for oil, too. That kind of solid utility coupled with the health-based benefits of using less fat means that your £229 is well spent, as far as we’re concerned.
To add value and peace of mind when buying there’s a 12-month warranty on this multi-cooker, as there is on all Ninja products, which covers the cost of parts and labor, should your machine develop an issue.
What did we not like about it?
If we were to get really picky, we’d love for it to have a soft-close lid – we absentmindedly let it slam shut on our first few uses.
Also, while the up and down arrow keys are easy to use to adjust temperature and cooking time, we found it can be a bit of a drag to have to press a button continually until it reaches the digit we’re after. But then, patience isn’t a particularly strong point of ours.
As you might expect, this machine is a little noisy when air frying. The sound is somewhere in between your over-worked laptop’s fan and a hairdryer. This is a sound we were prepared for and can live with, but in a perfect world, it’d be a little less acoustically imposing.
Ninja 11-in-1 Smartlid Multi-cooker review: w&h verdict
We had heard great things about this model, and it's safe to say it lived up to expectations. One of the reasons we chose this multicooker to test is because of its customer reviews. If it wasn’t an inanimate object, we’re sure it’d blush over them. It’s rated 4.7 stars out of 5 on Ninja’s website, based on more than 700 reviews. Meanwhile, on Amazon, it has the same score from over 2,500 ratings.
Whether you want to crisp up, caramelize, intensify flavor or tenderize, it can make cooking easy and fuss-free, saving on time and washing up. Just as handy for a small family as a single person, it has a decent capacity and user-friendly controls, meaning it can help anyone get creative in the kitchen.
Jessica is a journalist and editor who works across print magazines and digital media. Specialising in food, she cut her teeth writing restaurant guides and reviews, before moving on to edit a food and drink magazine. It was her work there which saw her shortlisted for the Best Food Editor award by the British Society of Magazine Editors two years running. These days she works freelance, writing features and shopping guides as well as commissioning and editing content. She works with brands ranging from WIRED and BBC Food to The Independent, Ideal Home and Stylist.
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