Instant Pot or Ninja Foodi?

  • I have been testing out the Ninja Foodi because I’m trying to decide whether or not to get rid of my Instant Pot.

    I tested the Ninja Foodi out for a full week and made all our meals in it.

    I’ve put together an informative pro and con list for each and my final decision below.

    Perhaps this will help those of you who are still wondering whether or not you should get an Instant Pot.

    There is definitely more and more options out there starting with this Ninja Foodi!

    Oh, this is not sponsored. I bought both machines myself so you can trust that this review is 100% unbiased.

    What’s different about the Ninja Foodi?

    It’s a pressure cooker AND an air fryer AND dehydrator.

    It does everything the Instant Pot does (sauté, slow cook, pressure cook) and MORE.

    It’s basically four small appliances in one. A slow cooker, a pressure cooker, an air fryer, and a dehydrator.

    Why did you get the Ninja Foodi?

    I got the Ninja Foodi because I have wanted an air fryer but I really didn’t want to buy another small appliance so I’m hoping that the Ninja Foodi can take place of my Instant Pot.

    I have too many as it is and while I have the room for it, I just didn’t want to use up that space for a machine that I may or may not use often.

    What comes with the Ninja Foodi?

    You get the nonstick pan, the fry basket, the wire rack, and the pressure cooker lid.

    How much is the Ninja Foodi?

    So, it’s not cheap when you compare it to the Instant Pot BUT if you think about it, it includes an air fryer. So that’s kind of like you buying an Instant Pot AND an air fryer separately.

    The cost ends up being the same, if not more, depending on what brand air fryer you buy.

    The Ninja Foodi cost me roughly $193 including tax. Retail price is $229 but I bought it at Bed, Bath, and Beyond so I was able to use a 20% off coupon.

    However, on Amazon, it is now $179.99!

    Why didn’t you buy it at Amazon?

    Well, because Amazon didn’t have it for 20% off (but now it’s actually cheaper than BBB at $179.99) but the main reason was because there’s two different models on Amazon and it’s confusing which one you are actually going to get.

    Some of the product photos show it has the dehydrator function/button but then some of the product photos show that they don’t. So I didn’t want to order this giant machine and then have to ship it back if I got the one without the dehydrator. See the photo above where this one obviously has the dehydrator option. There are models apparently that don’t have that button.

    It was just easier to buy in store somewhere.

    Pressure cooker function of Ninja Foodi

    I was very eager to test this out first because if I got rid of my Instant Pot, I would need the next pressure cooker to perform like the Instant Pot.

    I’m happy to report it worked just as well. I did have an issue with the seal/vent valve but it only happened once so it might’ve been a fluke/user error.

    Air fryer function of Ninja Foodi

    I’ve never used an air fryer before this machine so I have nothing to compare it to.

    I’m very impressed though with how little oil you need for everything to cook and get crisp.

    I made my three ingredient nuggets in it — dropped the meatballs in raw and didn’t even use any oil. They came out so crispy!

    We’ve made scallops in it, chicken tenders, asparagus, broccoli, and more!

    Pros of the Ninja Foodi

    • Essentially four machines in one
    • It does everything the Instant Pot does and more
    • It costs less than an Instant Pot and all the other machines you’d have to buy individually
    • Easy to use
    • Easy to clean
    • Not much of a learning curve
    • I like that as it’s coming up to pressure, the digital screen shows you that it’s doing that. With the Instant Pot, it seemed like a guessing game, haha

    Cons of the Ninja Foodi

    • The size; it’s definitely not a space saver, lol
    • The double lid; the air fryer lid doesn’t come off so if you are using the pressure cooker, the air fryer lid stays open. See photo above.
    • I don’t like that the main insert is nonstick vs. stainless steel like the Instant Pot. Because you are putting the fry basket into it, I feel like the legs of the fry basket can easily scratch up the nonstick and with use overtime, it might start to peel.
    • If you use the air fryer, you have to wash both the basket and the nonstick insert it sits in. Double clean up is no fun.
    • The seal and vent valve is more finnicky with the Foodi. You have to really make sure it’s on seal before you start it otherwise it starts to “leak” a little when it comes up to pressure and starts releasing a lot of steam. I ended up having to use a tong to keep it on the sealed side until it came up to pressure. That might’ve been a fluke though and user error.
    • There aren’t presets on the Ninja Foodi so those of you that aren’t sure about cooking times might find that this trial and error isn’t for you. Personally, this is no big deal for me because the machine comes with a general cook time template and also I’ve cooked enough with a pressure cooker to know what times to set for each. The air fryer; you can lift the lid during cooking to check up on it.
    • It only comes in one size right now. 6.5 quarts; which is decent for our family of two but I know some people have an 8 quart Instant Pot.
    • Sometimes with chicken dishes, I have to cook them in two or three batches because of the small basket which makes dinner time drawn out.

    Things about the Ninja Foodi that are worth mentioning

    • The air fryer actually cooks a lot faster than I thought too. Most things come together in half the time.
    • Though both the air fryer basket and nonstick insert look “small,” they are actually 0.5 quarts more than the Instant Pot. I think looks are deceiving because the Foodi is short and round while the Instant Pot is tall and narrow.

    Ah, the machine that started it all. The good ole Instant Pot.

    I honestly love this machine. I used it plenty.

    I found myself to use it more in the cooler months though because I love a good cozy roast.

    Pros of the Instant Pot

    • It does its job.
    • There are presets for those that are nervous about not knowing about cook times.
    • If you just want a pressure cooker, this is really honestly the only machine you’ll need.
    • It’s smaller so easier to store although I know some people think even the IP is too big!
    • It has the ability to slow cook too so again, if you need space and don’t want two appliances, the Instant Pot is a good option.
    • Multiple size options. 3 quart, 6 quart, and 8 quart.
    • Price; you can always seem to find it on sale on Amazon for like $89.99 or similar; especially during flash deals and Black Friday.

    Cons of the Instant Pot

    • If you’re looking for more than a pressure cooker then the IP definitely doesn’t do it for you.
    • If you want an air fryer or dehydrator, the Instant Pot doesn’t have that.
    • Sealing issues with the Instant Pot seem to be the biggest issue I’ve heard. The ring is super finicky. I’ve had one incident where it never completely came up to pressure and I had to release it and it basically ruined dinner cause it was like par-cooked.
    • The rubber seal keeps cooking smells and I can definitely attest to this. When I made my Instant Pot Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup, my Instant Pot now can’t “unsmell” of Chinese five spice, lol
    • I’m hearing the slow cooker function is TERRIBLE on the Instant Pot; I haven’t tried it because I use my 23 year old Crockpot because I know it works.

    VERDICT: which did I end up choosing?

    So after using the Ninja Foodi to cook dinner in for a week, I ended up PACKING IT UP AND RETURNING IT. Don’t worry, I kept all the packaging and washed it up real good.

    I just couldn’t get past the size of the beast (and its weight) and I didn’t see myself actually using the air fryer THAT often.

    And the fact I would have to be lugging out the machine just to use the pressure cooker wasn’t appealing.

    Additionally, I felt like the air fryer was more like a broiler than anything else.

    Some people said if I had a convection oven, I didn’t need an air fryer — slightly disagree.

    While the air fryer does push around hot air (it has a fan) like a convection oven, it does cook differently. The final product is crisper than a convection but that might be because the heating element is literally on top of your food — hence why I think it’s more like a broiler.

    So yep, I’ll be keeping my Instant Pot!

    Now that I’ve actually used an air fryer, I don’t think I’ll be buying one. I’m happy with my pressure cooker and slow cooker!

    Where to buy?

    Questions?

    I’m sure I’ve missed something and I’m sure you’ve got questions.

    Feel free to ask below and I can try my best to answer!

    There are affiliate links in this post.

  • 53 Comments
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    Comments

  • Donna Adams says:

    Thanks for this testimonial. I’ve been thinking seriously about getting an instant pot. Now I feel much better informed ☺️

    • Julie Wampler says:

      Yay! So happy I could help!

  • Mary says:

    Great review. It swayed me into not getting the air fryer. I know they will be very discounted over Thanksgiving, but after the initial novelty of it I don’t think I would pull it out as much.

    • Julie Wampler says:

      I definitely agree!

  • Karen says:

    Many thanks for your thoughts and research on the Ninja. I’ve been wondering about the benefits, but couldn’t see myself comparing. Great job!

    • Julie Wampler says:

      Thank you!

  • Lora P. says:

    This is EXACTLY what I wanted and needed to hear. Been contemplating purchasing a Foodi, but you’re right – they’re HUGE…and I’m not sure I see myself using the fryer as much as I like to think I would. :) Thanks for this – great write up!

    • Julie Wampler says:

      Great! I’m so glad this helped!

  • Jessi Summers says:

    Additional cons of Ninja Foodi: That name is just so silly! Thanks for this post. :)

    • Julie Wampler says:

      Haha, very true. I think they were just capitalizing on the “foodie” name that is used so often these days.

  • Dayna D. McMullan says:

    Thank you for this review. It was easy to read and addressed my concerns with the “coated” inner pot vs. the Instant Pot Stainless Steel.

    • Julie Wampler says:

      I’m so glad it helped!

  • Julie says:

    Great info. I’ve been going back and forth about getting an Instant Pot, especially since I had a slow cooker. but my slow cooker got broken so I think I’m finally going to break down on Black Friday and get one.

    • Julie Wampler says:

      Great! I really do love my Instant Pot!

  • Katie says:

    I found a great early Black Friday deal on the Instant Pot, so we broke down and purchased it online two days ago… Last night, my husband saw an ad for the Ninja Foodi. He wanted to look into it as an alternative, so I was trying to find out the pros and cons of each and which would be better for our family. Thank you for your non-biased opinion!!! I’ll share this with my husband and most likely keep our IP. Happy Thanksgiving

    • Julie Wampler says:

      I’m so happy to hear this helped you!! You’ll enjoy the Instant Pot! Happy Thanksgiving!!

  • Jason says:

    I think this review is BS. My Foodi works way better than any insta pot. It crisps wonderfully. The whole point of having an air fryer is not having to use any oil at all, your not supposed to use oil. I made ribs in it the other night, pressure cooked them than crisped them and they were grill worthy. I have enough counter space in my home for this appliance and it’s so easy and awesome to use. You literally can make ANYTHING in it. I made curly fries in it as well the other day and you just put them in the basket, turn the air crisper on, toss the fries a couple times and they come out golden crispy and delicious. NO Oil needed. I have a cute little spring form pan and it makes the most delicious cheese cakes and all kinds of other stuff. Also I’ve had no problem with my pressure valve, it works completely fine, it does not leak steam when it’s coming to pressure and it stays sealed till your rrady to release it. I would recommend the Foodi to anyone!

    • Julie Wampler says:

      Okay, first off, you need to calm down. This is my personal review — unbiased. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I respect your opinion of the Ninja Foodi and I think you need to respect mine. It’s not like I bashed the Ninja Foodi and said this was the worst machine ever. It just didn’t work for me; I’m glad it works for you. I thought it was a very comprehensive review of both machines and just because I didn’t end up choosing “your” machine…it doesn’t make this review “BS.”

  • Lissa Cano says:

    Thank you Julie for your insightful pros and cons of the instant pot and Ninja Foodi. I really wavering between the two. my question is does the Instant Pot crisp a whole chicken which I read the Ninja will do, or when you cook the chicken in the Instant Pot is the skin soft and slimy? I really appreciate your time in answering my question.

  • Debbie H. says:

    You just helped me decide. Your review was better than flipping a coin. I have limited space. I also got thinking about how often I fry. If I need to top brown I have a large toaster oven or oven broiler. Thank you for your effort.

    • Julie Wampler says:

      Glad this helped you out!!

  • Shirley says:

    Thank you for this comparison. I like crispy food and would not want to have to turn my oven on after cooking in the pot to get it crispy. Even though you didn’t choose the Ninja Foodi, this review very much helped me and I will be getting the Foodi. I have plenty of counter space and see myself using the Ninja a lot. The instant pot doesn’t seem to do enough of what I like to eat. I don’t need a pot to make rice or yogurt and I’m not that much of a soup/stew person. Now roasts, fried chicken without the fat, now you’re talking to me. Thanks for doing the research!

    • Julie Wampler says:

      I’m glad this helped you with your decision!

  • Denise Witt says:

    Hi, was wondering ,does the smart pot make your meat crispy?

    • Julie Wampler says:

      Yes, if you use the air fryer part of it.

  • Gwen Bonnie says:

    Thank you, Julie. Excellent review! NOW I truly am informed!

    • Julie Wampler says:

      Great!!

  • Don Terrillon says:

    Thank you for the unbelievable review of the Ninja Foodi and the Instant Pot you have helped me make my decision very easy, thanks again.

  • Dona Deam says:

    Thanks you for the review. It answered my questions about all three products. Now I will be better able to decide what to buy.

    • Julie Wampler says:

      Glad to hear it!

  • K Mauldin says:

    Thanks Julie, very very helpful information!! I had been so curious about the Ninja…

  • Bronwyn Benito says:

    Is the IP better for cooking rice? This appliance will replace my enormous rice cooker. I really like the idea of the air fryer but I need to be able to cook rice regularly. Also, is the IP easier to use and how many different foods/cooking methods have you tried in both? Are their functions comparable (minus frying feature). I know you’ve already addressed some of this but I’m still trying to decide and need clarification. Thanks!

    • Julie Wampler says:

      I don’t cook rice in my IP. I have a Japanese rice cooker that I swear by and have used my entire life! The IP is easier to use, in my opinion, b/c it has the preset functions. I didn’t compare all cooking methods but I did compare the pressure cooking and saute and they are comparable.

  • Marco Lopez Valderrama says:

    Thank you so much for your review. I just got an instant pot (6qts), and then I saw the Ninja Foodi and was regretting my Instant Pot purchase. However, After seeing your review, I have reassurance with the Instant Pot. I love it so far and can’t wait for all the cooking I am gonna do with it.

    • Julie Wampler says:

      Yay!!

  • Susan Childers says:

    I am looking for a slow cooker with a delayed start so that my slow cooker meals don’t sit in heat for 10 hours while I’m at work. Do either the Instant Pot or Foodi have delayed start for the slow cooker function? If not, can you tell me, does a pressure cooker make the same kinds of foods you’d make in a slow cooker, but in, like, 20 minutes? I love coming home to my dinner waiting for me, but not having sat in “warm” mode for 2 extra hours. But, if a pressure cooker can make the same meal in 20 minutes, I might be able to accept that alternative.

    • Julie Wampler says:

      I don’t know about the Foodi as I didn’t test the slow cooker capabilities on that but I know Instant Pot does have a delayed cooking start for slow cooker. It’s actually in the manual and tells you how to do it. However, yes, the pressure cooker can make the same meal in less time! I love making roasts in the pressure cooker because instead of 6-8 hours in the slow cooker, it usually will take 30-40 minutes in the pressure cooker! I have a ton of Instant Pot recipes if you want to take a look and see how versatile the recipes are: https://www.tablefortwoblog.com/tag/pressure-cooker/

  • April Anderson says:

    I really appreciated this very unbiased review. I work in marketing and now sadly aware, it is almost impossible to find unbiased information, with humble honesty of opinion (unlike pretending there is no opinion…which is always a lie).
    Im still choosing, but now helped with honesty 😊 I am frugal, so multifunction is very tempting BUT you’ve reminded my of my purpose, (for me) to make bone broth in less than my normal 24 hrs on stove and since its entirely for my health and I’m not a ‘fried food girl’ (all respect for ones who are) …the non stick coating seems to defeat my purpose of continuing to ease my (autoimmune) self with my diet… and avoiding stress like reading the boxes of these products for an hour at store. Thanks 🧚‍♀️

    • Julie Wampler says:

      I’m so glad this helped you and that it was one of the few unbiased ones. I always strive for that!

  • grace says:

    this was super helpful! i think i still might get the ninja foodi but i really appreciate this review!

  • Jennifer says:

    So funny, I’ve been wanting an IP all fall because of a crazy schedule with after school kid activities. My husband bought one for me on Black Friday. I have yet to use it. I just saw the Ninja Foodi commercial and thought “oh know! Should I have bought that instead”? For me I’m just wondering what would I need the airfryer for? Thanks for your great, honest review!

    • Julie Wampler says:

      Air frying is just an alternative to deep frying; a healthier alternative. If you like ultra crispy things, I think an air fryer is a great option but personally, I can just roast/broil in the oven lol

  • BARBARA FRYER says:

    Thank you so much, Julie. That was such a wonderful and detailed comparison. I so appreciate your efforts to inform us so we can make a decision before buying.

  • Mickir says:

    Did you use the dehydrator on the Ninja?

    • Julie Wampler says:

      No, I did not.

  • Carol says:

    Thanks for the honest review. I love Ninja products, but I don’t need an airfryer, I have the other Ninja fryer. I LOVE my Instant Pot, I’ve used the Slow Cooker on it, worked great. I’ve never had an issue with sealing it, did have an issue once because I didn’t put enough water in the pot, so human error.

  • Teresa Mills says:

    I’m so glad I found your review! I had ordered a ninja Foodi and it was back ordered for weeks. Now I’m actually happy they didn’t ship it I probably would of shipped it back. I love my ip I just wanted the chicken and steaks etc to be a little browned I will buy s brûlée torch!! And keep my up thank you for saving me hours of debating the issue:)

    • Julie Wampler says:

      Glad to hear it! Or you can just stick it under a broiler!

  • Susan Anderson says:

    Thanks for the review! I’ve been try to decide if I should choose the IP or the Foodi, this review saved my husband some time and cash!

  • Jennifer Anderson says:

    Your review has helped with my research and making my decision on which pot I want to get. Still need to do some more research on both.

  • Judy Knight says:

    If you are using the Ninja Foodi as a slow cooker for stew, does it thicken the broth during cooking? I fing my crock pots do not.

    • Julie Wampler says:

      slow cookers aren’t usually meant for thickening broths; that’s usually something you do on the stovetop with the lid uncovered but even then sometimes you need help from a thickening agent like arrowroot powder, flour, or cornstarch.

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