Product Review: Ninja® 3-in-1 Cooking System

It’s been several weeks since I got my Ninja® 3-in-1 Cooking System and I’ve been quite happy with it so far. Before I begin this review, a couple of things: First, I am not affiliated with Ninja in any way. Second, I did receive this product for free, as some of you may remember from my recent blog on Portland. I attended the International Food Bloggers Conference in late August and one of the luncheons was hosted by Ninja. I didn’t realize beforehand that I would be receiving the Ninja just for attending the lunch (nor did most of the people in the room, judging by the excited reactions I heard when it was announced that the system would be shipped to us, free of charge.) That being said, I promise to give the most unbiased and honest review that I can.

According to one of the booklets that came with the system, the Ninja, with its “triple fusion heat technology, combines oven, stovetop, slow cooking and revolutionary steam infused roasting and baking to create delicious and healthier meals, faster and with true convenience.” I like to describe it as a slow-cooker on steroids, plus more.

I have used slow cookers/crock pots ever since my college days. Throw everything into the pot, choose high or low temperature and walk away until the food is ready to serve. Unless you have to brown the meat first, which requires using and cleaning another pan. Well, with the Ninja, you can brown/sear the meat using its stovetop function and then switch over to slow-cooker mode, right in the same pot. This is one of my favorite features on the Ninja.

Another cool feature is that you are not limited to just a “traditional” crock pot-type meal, such as a pot roast, etc. When the Ninja folks were demonstrating their product at the luncheon, they made salmon, quinoa and asparagus, all in the same pot. All they did was switch cooking modes depending on the ingredients. Voila! A complete and healthy meal, all in one pot! You even can bake desserts, such as cupcakes, flan, etc.

So far I have made lasagna, two types of chili, ham, potato and corn chowder, and caramel baked apples, all with great success, except for the apples. Half of them (the Honeycrisps) turned out awesome, but the Granny Smiths completely fell apart. This partly was my fault as I didn’t check on the apples enough. On the other hand, the recipe that came with the unit did not specify what type of apples to use. Oh well, live and learn!

I have yet to use the Ninja’s steam-infused roasting feature, but based on how the other food I’ve prepared, I can see how the cooking time would be much faster than using a normal oven. For example, one of the recipes that comes with the Ninja lists the cooking time for a 6-lb. whole roasting chicken as 1 hour, 15 minutes. Sweet! That is on my list to try next.

Here’s what I like (love) about the Ninja:

  • You can brown/sear the meat in the same unit, which is so convenient and saves on washing extra pots and pans.
  • It is easy as a breeze to clean. The cooking pot is removable, nonstick and dishwasher safe, although I just clean it by hand in no time at all.
  • The controls are easy-to-read, even without glasses.
  • The slow cook mode has a buffet setting for entertaining. It also has a timer and will switch to “Auto Warm” for up to 12 hours once cooking is done (especially convenient if you are gone most of the day.)
  • Food cooks faster versus traditional methods in some of the cooking modes (roasting, for example.)
  • Steam-infused baking can eliminate half of the fat of traditional cake and loaf recipes.

Here’s what I’d like to see improved or added:

  • It needs a longer power cord. For people with limited outlets or space, this could be an issue unless you have an extension cord handy. The Owner’s guide says the short cord is to reduce the risk of tripping over a long cord, but a two-foot cord is just too short.
  • The handles of the cooking pot get HOT! Always use pot holders. I’d like to see some sort of rubber handles like you see on some bake ware, etc.
  • One of my other slow cookers has the ability to clamp the lid to the pot for easy transport. That is a feature I’d love to see on the Ninja.

Price

The Ninja’s price may be overwhelming to some. I saw an infomercial a few weeks ago where it retailed for $199.00. Since then, I’ve seen the Ninja at Bed, Bath and Beyond and some other places  for $159.00. I certainly will use my Ninja enough to justify the price, but you will need to decide if it will fit in your budget. Or, put it on your gift wish list – the holidays are coming soon!

Bottom Line

If you use a slow cooker a lot, get this. The stovetop feature for browning and searing is worth it alone. I will definitely use the Ninja in the summer instead of my oven, to keep my kitchen cooler.

I will post some of the delicious recipes for what I’ve made in my Ninja next several weeks, so please stay tuned!

Bon appétit!

Eat, drink and be merry!

Follow Kel’s Café on Twitter at http://twitter.com/kelscafe

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31 Responses to Product Review: Ninja® 3-in-1 Cooking System

  1. pj says:

    Wow. That looks awesome! I love my crocpot b/c its so easy, but I always look for recipes that dont require me to brown the meat first. Lazy I reckon.

  2. Trina says:

    Excellent review! You took all the guess work out of watching an infomercial. You know they always make things look better than they are.

    • Thanks, Trina. I agree – sometimes the products in infomercials don’t live up to the hype. It was great to see the live presentation of the Ninja in Portland, where we could actually see, smell, and taste the food.

  3. I just bought the Ninja Cooking System for my wife. She’s cleaned all the parts and is about ready to use it to cook a Thanksgiving meal this Sunday. She is used to setting her crock pot and letting it cook over night with no worries. However the Ninja Cooking System has a hole in it’s top cover and she’s worried the liquid she adds will evaporate through the hole opening. What do you suggest in this regard? I’m hoping this is a great new kitchen appliance for my wife as we love the Ninja mixer system.

  4. Sovereign John – I also was worried about evaporation, but have had no problems at all. You set the cooking time, so it will switch over to a “warming” mode once it’s finished cooking, which I think helps. Your wife is going to love her Ninja – I know I do! Great gift!

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  6. My girfriend wants this for Christmas and your independent, unbaised review really helped.
    I was debating on what to get her, needless to say I will be stopping at BBB today :)
    Thank you!

  7. carrie says:

    My parents got one and there’s no power cord and no where to plug it in why?

  8. Barbara says:

    I love mine. I got it for Xmas. Just wondering if you have tried to bake a potatoes. And also mine did not have that small version of the cookbook. Do you think they would sent me on if I called them
    Thanks
    Barb

    • Hi Barb,

      I have not tried baked potatoes in the Ninja but it sounds like a great idea! I didn’t get the cookbook, either, but I figure that’s because I was given the Ninja at the IFBC conference. I would definitely call and ask for one.

      Happy cooking and eating!
      Kelley

  9. why is the basket that sits under the rest bigger than 1 i got?

    • Hi William,

      I’m not sure – I would contact the people at Ninja and see what they say. I’ve only used my basket once, and it held 4 medium/large apples. It could be that it just looks bigger in the picture I took.

      Hope this helps!
      Kelley

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  12. Coach Leon says:

    Have had it for a week now, and we have made multiple meals with it. Awesome machine. Wish there were more recipes available.

  13. Hi Coach Leon,

    I wish there were more recipes as well – I didn’t get the cookbook that comes with the Ninja, but I do have some slow cooker cookbooks that I’ve adapted recipes from and they have all been great!

  14. Zip says:

    The ninja is great. i use mine at least a couple times a week. But you have to be careful. It seems to get hotter than my old crockpot and cooks up the liquid quite fast. For the ribs I had to add liquid three times, but they were wonderful. The Korean chicken wings are awesome. The next time I will use chicken thighs or legs with that recipe. After the wings cooked my daughter took them out and added mixed vegetables to the sauce and let them cook in it. That was awesome.

  15. Cheryl says:

    wondering if I could cook a ham in this as a back on on Easter?? Will make it easier to use the oven for other things!! Looks like I could do scalloped postatoes in this…has anyone tried this??

  16. Judy Cross says:

    I bought mine last November. I love it!!! We make everything in there. I made homemade Tapioca pudding yesterday. Yummy!!! My husband and I are retired, worried about spending the money, it is more than worth it. We use it almost every day. Am making miniature cupcakes in there now. Grand kids are coming over!!! They are so moist and good. There are a ton of recipes on line, or adapt your own.

  17. Thanks for your comments, Judy. The Ninja really is a great product – I’m making some corned beef right now. Cupcakes sound good – I haven’t tried making them yet, but that would certainly make the kids happy.

  18. Pot Roast, super! Beef Stew, wonderful!…oh, and Mussels Marinara, quick, easy and delicious!
    I had the Wolfgang Puck unit and it died after the 3rd use, the Ninja ROCKS!

    • Yes, Mason, the Ninja does rock! After being without electricity in my kitchen for more than two months due to the remodel, we finally got power today and i hope to use my Ninja this weekend. BTW, I would love to have your mussels marinara recipe!

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