Ninja Foodi Ninja Airfryer Deluxe XXL (AF160)
An air fryer is increasingly becoming a common sight in kitchens. Ever since Philips introduced the first commercial air fryer for home use in 2010, numerous companies have come out with their own versions of the versatile countertop convection oven that deep fries food without the use of oil. The air fryer has proven to be a hit with the growing health conscious crowd.
A new product that recently turned up on our shores is the Ninja Airfryer Deluxe XXL. The Ninja brand sounded a little dubious to us initially, but we did some digging and found that the brand comes from the American company SharkNinja formed in the 1990s. SharkNinja produces the Shark brand of vacuum cleaners and Ninja brand of kitchen appliances, and both are major household brands in the US. The Ninja Airfryer Deluxe XXL is retailing at just $199 locally, a steal compared to the latest Philips Avance Collection Air Fryer XXL that is going for $499, a whopping $300 more.
So we got a Ninja Airfryer Deluxe XXL and compared it with the Philips Avance Collection Airfryer XXL, and here are our thoughts.
The first thing to note is the size. A common gripe about air fryers is the size. They are usually too small to cook large batches of food or larger items. However, both the Ninja XXL and Philips XXL come with a generous capacity. The difference, however, lies in how the capacity is laid out. The Philips gives you a generous footprint, allowing you to lay out and separate your items, allowing for a more even cook. The wide layout of the basket also allows you to stick an entire chicken in with room to spare. However, this also means that the Philips Airfryer XXL takes up a criminal amount of space in our already limited kitchen counter top.
In comparison, the Ninja Airfryer Deluxe XXL comes with a narrower basket, but makes up for it with additional height. This means that while you are able to cook a similar volume of items, you are more likely to have to stack them on top of each over, making for a slightly less even cook unless you shake the basket or rearrange the items regularly during the cook. While narrower than the Philips, it is by no means small. The size is still generous enough to cook an entire chicken, albeit a smaller one. One way to maximise the space of the Ninja Airfryer Deluxe XXL is to use a grill rack and a mid-level rack, adding extra tiers of cooking space. Unfortunately, the racks are not included in the standard package. This was a strange decision by Ninja as the grill rack was featured in some of their marketing materials, and even listed as a required accessory for 5 of the 6 cooking modes in their quick start guide. Even more strangely, while the grill rack is available as a separate purchase for $20.99 on their website, the mid-level rack was not listed anywhere for purchase (Tip: You can get find some compatible third-party accessories at a cheaper price. There's really no reason why you need to purchase an original Ninja grill rack). Nevertheless, we found the air fryer to cook well even without the "required accessory" grill rack.
PRESETS, TIME, TEMPERATURE
The Ninja Airfryer's cooking temperature ranges from 40°C to a maximum 240°C, beating out the Philips that maxes out at 200°C (unchanged since their first generation of air fryers). An extra 40°C at the top range makes a huge difference, allowing you to try out recipes that you would otherwise not be able to, and to really bring out the crunch in some food items.
The Ninja Airfryer Deluxe XXL includes 6 cooking modes while the Philips Avance Airfryer XXL includes 5 presets (and a manual mode). Regardless of the mode/preset you choose, the cooking method is essentially the same (a fan blowing at the heating element to circulate hot air). The only difference between the presets are the temperature and cooking duration.
Unlike the Philips air fryer, the Ninja air fryer does not come with a manual mode. You can only choose from the 6 preset cooking modes (default is Air Fry), each with their own set temperature range and duration. We couldn't find this information listed anywhere officially or in any other reviews online, but here's what we gathered from our testing.
This was an interesting decision from Ninja to restrict the temperature and duration of each preset and to not include a manual mode. This means you are unable to have complete control over the use of the air fryer. It sounds a little restrictive, but in the two months we have used the air fryer, there was not an occasion where we needed to use a specific temperature and time that was unavailable for selection. Indeed, this might actually be a useful safeguard to prevent food from burning and damaging the appliance.
One minor gripe though, was the preset duration of the Air Fry mode. When you select Air Fry, the appliance defaults to 200°C for 20 mins. In our experience, we found great success with cooking frozen snack (nuggets, fries, etc.) at 200°C for around 10-12 mins, which meant multiple presses to adjust the duration down from the preset 20 mins. We wish Ninja would have added an onboard memory to save our own presets or at least remember the last used setting.
COMPONENTS AND ACCESSORIES
The Ninja Airfryer Deluxe XXL comes with just 3 parts. The main unit, a single piece ceramic coated basket and a ceramic coated crisper plate. If you have used a Philips air fryer in the past, you would know how painful the parts are to wash. Ninja, to our delight, have done a really good job at making washing a breeze. The inside of the basket itself is a single piece with a mostly flat surface, compared to the Philips basket which contains multiple parts with hard to reach nooks and crannies. The ceramic coating on the basket and plate and the lack of unnecessary nooks and crannies makes them extremely easy to wash. The crisper plate does have a number of nooks and holes to allow for air flow (that's pretty much unavoidable on an air fryer), including a raised handle in the middle to allow you to lift and remove it for cleaning. We felt that the raised handle could have been better designed. Having a raised handle in the middle of the plate gets in the way, and we often find ourselves having to arrange food around the handle. It also makes cleaning slightly more difficult.
The Ninja Airfryer Deluxe XXL has become one of our favourite kithen appliances. Specifications wise, it beats the top of the line Philips Avance Collection Airfryer XXL handily in both temperature and max timer duration. While the basket configuration is narrower as compared to the Philips, this also meant it takes up less space in our limited kitchen countertops. Most importantly, it is extremely easy to clean, which is a really important factor for air fryers that tend to get really oily after each use.
Priced at just around $200, we feel it is a no-brainer when compared to the Philips that costs more than double the price.
The Ninja Airfryer Deluxe XXL (AF160) is available from online platforms such as Lazada and Shopee for $199 at the time of writing.