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!

    Pressure Cooker Recipes

    These recipes can be made in either the Instant Pot or Foodi (on pressure cooker mode)!

    There are affiliate links in this post.

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    Comments

  • Sandie S says:

    Thank you for your unbiased review! This was very helpful and I appreciate the things you touched on and confirmed some of the thoughts I was already thinking. Great review!

  • BILL Reardon says:

    No matter what, you cannot beat the instapot

  • Janice says:

    I appreciate your opinion, but as far as product testing, you didn’t really pass the test. You don’t know if the slow cooking option really works in the Instant Pot because you heard it doesn’t, so you’ve never tried it. You don’t really care for fried food, so you don’t have any opinion on the air frying option of the Foodi. See where I’m going with this? That being said, I don’t own an Instant Pot, but I do own a 4 quart electric pressure cooker of a different brand, and I loved cooking certain things with it. I received a Ninja Foodi as a Christmas gift, and I love cooking a lot more things in it. You can pressure cook meats, like chicken, and then air crisp the skin, or you can totally cook them with just the airfryer. Fried chicken in the Foodi is delicious…the skin is crispy and the meat is sooo juicy. I wanted a larger volume pressure cooker, because I like to cook extra foods for lunches, and the 4 qt I have just wasn’t big enough for good sized batches of soups and things. The Foodi, being a 6.5 qt pot, is big enough, though. The fryer basket for air frying is on the small side, so just as you had to do, I have had to do two separate batches at times, too. As for the enormous size of the unit as a whole, I don’t find it that much bigger than the 4 qt. Pressure cooker I already had, although it is a bit taller, it’s not that much bigger. I had a NuWave Oven Pro cooker, and THAT thing was big! I bought my son an Instant Pot for Christmas, but now that I’ve owned and used the Foodi, I wish I had gotten him one of those, because I think he would get more use out of it. Anyway, it all depends on individual preferences, and although I love my pressure cooker, the Foodi is much more versatile. Why would you want to pressure cook something, and then put it in the oven to crisp it up, when you can do it in the same appliance? If someone isn’t going to use the pressure cooker option, I’d probably suggest a stand alone air fryer, because they might be roomier. I have not used the slow cooker function on either of mine, because pressure cooking is faster…I like fast. I haven’t used the dehydration feature yet, either, so can’t offer an opinion on that. The ceramic coated pot and fryer basket clean up like a breeze, but the detachable diffuser on the bottom is kind of hard to get clean, even after soaking. I have had my Foodi for about three weeks, and I haven’t cooked with anything else.

  • Leslie Peters says:

    Thank you for honest opinion. I was waivering on getting the Ninjia Foodi now I can feel better with just the InstaPot. I also had the food smell in my pot, but found a small box of baking soda set inside between usage works wonders. Thank you again.

  • TeresaR says:

    i appreciate your input, but I find that the thing about the differences between instapot and foodi is entirely based on your needs. For instance, I wanted an air fryer and to try a pressure cooker, and my crock pot of 15 years keeled over. So I had to get one of those too. I didn’t want to go out and buy three devices, because my kitchen is small.

    The only detractor I found of the Foodi was trying to use the pressure/slow cooker functoins with both lids present. But I solved that by getting a small, rolling cart to put it on. In fact, I like it’s shorter height so much that I can see I’ll use the foodi more.

    I didn’t see when your review was posted, but there is now an 8 qt foodi available for folks as well.

    Now I’ve never used an instapot, but this is my recent experience with my Foodi:

    Air Fryer – the first thing I did was fry up some fries. Yes, it’s probably what a lot of folks do, but did it anyway. They were perfect. They were frozen, so there was very little work. I did think it took longer than I expected to get them the way I wanted, but that may have been a personal preference. Since then I have used it to fry chicken breasts. My cholesterol level dropped in happiness, at the delicious chicken with so little oil. I’ve been frying my chicken breasts the same exact way for 30 years and to find a better way is amazing. They were juicy and tender and we gobbled them up. My next task for the fryer will be pork chops – because I don’t like oven baked pork chops. I’m sure they will turn out just as well.

    Crock Pot: the next thing I made was a beef stew in the slow cooker. Now I’m not a huge beef stew fan, but hubby is. I can honestly say, though, that it was the BEST Beef stew I’ve ever eaten. The meat was tender, the vegetables were just right. The recipe also came from a Foodi recipe book, which I used as a guideline and made my own tweaks to it. Hubby loved it better than my last beef stew made in a regular crock pot cooker. Do I think it’s better than a crock pot? I have mixed feelings. The low setting is too low, and the high setting seems perfect for cooking, but not low enough for keeping things warm thru the day. Otherwise, yes, I do like the slow cooker portion.

    Pressure Cooking: Now let me say up front – I’m a newbie for pressure cookers. My hand shook when I did the “water” test. But, alas, I was successful. I moved on to a chicken. yes, I jumped in with both feet. Did I do as well as I did with the stew? no. That was definitely user error, however. So, the other night, I pressure cooked some chili. Now I have always made chili in a slow cooker, so I could put it in, leave it, and have it off and on for a day or two. I cooked this, we each had a bowl and were amazed at the flavor. Either I had done a better than AMAZING job with my spices, or this Ninja did an amazing job cooking it. We used the slow cooker portion periodically through the next few days and we thoroughly enjoyed every drop of the chili. None went to waste. That is the first time I made a full pot and every drop was eaten. My husband had at least 5 bowls yesterday and complained about eating too much, but that it was so good.

    Saute: Saute is an awesome feature. I brown my meats using this instead of my stove now. It’s HOT. When I wanted to heat up that big pot of chili faster than the slow cooker, we used Saute – that worked as well. Brought it to a boil faster than I thought possible.

    Combining features – as mentioned by another poster, in the Foodi you can use the air fryer not just to make fries, etc. You can also use it to brown cooked meats if you want it to brown AFTER it’s cooked, rather than before (for instance a roast you might use saute with before cooking, but a chicken you would brown after). You also have the amazing benefit to use broil, a feature I don’t think a lot of other cookers have. The only time I haven’t “combined” features to cook is when I make french fries, but then, not much to combine.

    As with all air fryers, I do recommend using a light olive oil spritz to add flavor, and proper texture to the foods.

    All in all, I’m super happy with my foodi, however, like I said in the beginning, the choice between a Foodi and an Instapot is based entirely on your needs. You obviously doesn’t NEED alot of the features that I prize on the Foodi. (That probably means you’re a better cook than I am). Could I survive with the Instapot, a crock pot and an air fryer? Sure. If I knocked out the wall of my dining room and made it part of the kitchen. But, I really do appreciate having all of those items in one.

    So the moral to the story – buy what you need, and not a penny more! It’s always the best way to make it in our world. If you have a need to replace a broken down crock pot like I did, and want to try all of these items, splurge for the Foodi. You won’t be disappointed. If not, Get which of those you need and enjoy every moment of it!

    Great cooking all! (From an average cook made better by a device – who knew that was possible?)

  • Susan Amelkin Lipton says:

    I have 3 pressure cookers. I am not a youngster and cook a lot. I cook a ziti recipes in any pressure cooker in 7 minutes. Then quick release. I watched a demo on the ninjitsu foodi and can’t believe that they said 20 tp 30 minutes for a ziti recipe.

  • Royal Hopper says:

    I actually have both of these utensils …and there is no doubt the Nina is the higher end product…cooking time is lower and it is far more versatile ..but if all you want to do is make rice and soup ..you don’t need a Ninja

  • joan m says:

    Thank you for reviewing these two items. I was looking at the Foodi, but I wasn’t sure just how useful the air fryer would be for me. I loved reading your pros and cons I think if I need something crisped, I already have a small convection oven with a broiler I can use.

  • Arlene Shearn says:

    Hi I have the Ninji foodi. Received it for Xmas. I love it. Made beef stew and my husband said it was the best he ever tasted. Even better than his mom’s. Also did a whole chicken and was juicy and the crisper was great. Never had a pressure cooker, was afraid but not any more. Got rid of the crock pot, fryer, and instant pot. Oh the chicken soup from scratch was fabulous. First try. No more can or boxed.

  • Stacy Kasse says:

    Thank you for your comprehensive review. I will wait for it to come down in price a bit. I love my air fryer…which I use for everything I want crisp…chicken strips, potatoes, fish…almost everything, and I use my instant pot for soups, pastas, ribs and more. My poor oven is now a storage unit (except for baking). Good luck with your future cooking experiences.

  • Lisa says:

    I know this post is kind of old but want to add my experience for those just now doing research.

    Hands down, Ninja is the way to go! I did hold out and wait for the 8 qt. to come in stock and got that size. If I remember correctly, the footprint of the 8 quart is the same as the 6.5 quart. It’s just a little taller. I have standard countertops and cabinets and have no trouble pulling the Foodi out far enough to have the attached crisping lid up while using the pressure lid.

    I had never considered an air fryer, but actually won one at an event several months ago, so I tried it out and found it useful enough that it earned a place on my (limited) countertop next to my large stand mixer. I had been interested in an electric pressure cooker when I won the air fryer, so I started researching them and discovered the Foodi as an option.

    I ended up with the Ninja and love it! I gave the air fryer to a co-worker and moved an embarrassing number of various sized slow cookers to the basement (keeping them for use at pot lucks and during the holidays). I used the cabinet space freed up by moving the slow cookers to MOVE MY STAND MIXER OFF OF THE COUNTER -something that has NEVER happened in the 30 years that I have owned stand mixers. That’s how much I love this appliance. In addition, the freed up cabinet space also holds the Ninja accessories and pressure lid. Ultimately, I ended up with MORE counter space with the Foodi in place than before purchasing it.

    I could easily see the Ninja taking the place of a toaster oven in terms of functionality. It has bake and broil functions that could easily accomplish what a toaster oven does. IMO, this brings the number of separate appliances that it can replace up to 5.

    As far as performance, everything I have made has turned out great! I don’t see the point of turning the oven on to finish a pressure cooker recipe when the Foodi can do it before the oven even has a chance to warm up.

    I have baked, air fried, sauteed, broiled, and pressure cooked with excellent results. I have not yet tried the steam, slow cook, or dehydrate functions.

    I am an experienced cook who has never felt the need for convenience appliances or frozen convenience foods such as chicken strips, etc. I did not even own a microwave until I became a step-mom to two teenage boys! So far when using the Foodi, I have used my own recipes. I had no experience with electric pressure cooking, but still managed to achieve excellent results. I look forward to trying some of the recipes in the cookbook that came with the Foodi and experimenting with desserts in it.

    For me, the variety of functions available with the Foodi make it the better choice. It truly does have the versatility to allow you get rid of lots of uni-tasking appliances. The only thing the Foodi hasn’t replaced is my SMALL rice cooker, which I pull out and use for rice (we don’t eat it often) and small batches of soup that I like but my husband doesn’t. The Foodi has definitely earned its place on my countertop!

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