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.
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!
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!
Eat, drink and be merry!
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