The Ninja Foodi Max 15-in-1 SmartLid Multi Cooker is a feature-packed appliance designed to meet a variety of cooking needs from pressure and slow cooking to air frying and steaming. Offering a significant upgrade from its previous dual-lidded models, the new SmartLid range comes with just one lid for every function, saving a considerable amount of space.
It also has a slick new design, a dough proving setting and six new combination steam cooking functions. These marry steam with convection-style cooking – such as baking and air frying – for juicy yet crisp roasts, fluffy cakes and even complete meals. It may cost £70 more than Ninja’s largest predecessor, the Max 9-in-1, but with the many additional features go a long way towards justifying the cost.
Ninja Foodi MAX 15-in-1 SmartLid Multi Cooker review: What do you get for the money?
The Foodi MAX 15-in-1 has had a stylish makeover. The sleek, brushed silver exterior features a crisp digital touch screen that works in conjunction with the dial at the front. Here, you’ll also find a slider, which allows you to quickly switch between pressure cooking, steaming and convection modes.
There are a lot of cooking functions to choose from. These include settings for pressure cooking, air frying, sauteing, roasting, baking, grilling, steaming, dehydrating, slow cooking and dough proving. Alongside this, there are five combination steam modes including steam meals, steam baking, steam air frying, steam roast and steam bread.
Accessories include a separate air fryer basket, an adjustable two-tier cooking rack and a quick start guide with recipe book. There’s even a cooking probe built neatly into the appliance’s side, which can be removed and attached internally during cooking.
The slick new design is pretty enough to earn a permanent spot on your worktop, which is lucky because it’s fairly hefty at 11.7kg; it’s not something you’ll want to move around regularly. You’ll need plenty of worktop space, though, as it measures 35 x 36 x 36cm (WDH), with additional space needed above to accommodate the lid and provide ample ventilation for any steam produced during cooking.
While the Ninja 15-in-1 has quite a few features you won’t find on other models, its £300 price is high, even for a premium multi cooker. For £130, you can pick up the similarly feature-packed Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus which features 9 cooking modes and 48 presets for recipes like risotto, chilli and even cheesecake. It’s not as easy to use as the Ninja, though, so there is a lot more guesswork involved. It also lacks a temperature probe or air frying function. Nonetheless, if you’re after something that specialises in pressure and slow cooking, it’s a more reasonably priced alternative.
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Ninja Foodi MAX 15-in-1 SmartLid Multi Cooker review: What’s good about it?
One of the biggest changes to this new generation of multi cookers is the introduction of a single lid. Previous models came with a seperate lid for pressure cooking, which was big, bulky and took up a lot of cupboard space. Having just one lid makes a huge difference and means switching between pressure cooking and other functions is much quicker.
Another new and notable accessory is its cooking probe, which measures and displays the temperature of fish, meat or poultry on screen in real time. You can even set the desired temperature at the start of cooking and the Foodi will beep to let you know when it’s done.
When it comes to versatility, the 15-in-1’s variety of pressure and convection cooking options are particularly useful if you don’t already own any similar kitchen gadgets. While most of the functions aren’t anything new, the five steam settings offer fairly good results once you get the hang of timings, producing fluffy cakes and keeping cuts of meat relatively juicy. The outsides weren’t always as browned as you might expect to see in an oven, but it’s unlikely to achieve a perfect result in an appliance designed to be so hands-off.
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Out of all the steam-based functions, the most useful by far is steam meals. We were able to cook a piece of fish, vegetables and pasta at the same time using the Ninja’s multi-tier wire racks. It did take a few attempts to get everything just right, but eventually the feature comes into its own, saving time both cooking and washing up.
Most of the other cooking functions also produced good results, but most notable was how perfectly and quickly the Ninja cooked rice and meat using the pressure cooking mode. Thankfully, if you’re new to pressure cooking, there’s plenty of advice on how to cook a range of rice and grain types, as well as meat, fish and vegetables. The step by step guide talks you through everything, including which pressure settings to use, timings and what type of steam release you should use – natural, quick or delayed.
Ninja Foodi MAX 15-in-1 SmartLid Multi Cooker review: What could be better?
The air frying element didn’t impress as much as the pressure cooker. While the fryer basket has a good capacity and can hold and cook a whole chicken, the results were disappointing. When cooking chips, chicken and other raw meats, the finish wasn’t much better than what you’d expect from a half decent oven and, quite often, foods didn’t cook any quicker.
The multi-tier rack isn’t really suitable for use with the air frying function either, which means you can’t cook multiple elements of a dish at once this way. It’s a shame, because Ninja’s dedicated Dual Zone air fryer is an excellent appliance for doing just that, but this doesn’t quite live up to the same standards.
A smaller gripe I have with the 15-in-1 is that there are still no handles on the main pot, which makes it incredibly difficult to remove when hot. This was an ongoing issue I had with Ninja’s previous generation of multi cookers and something I struggled with this time around too. It’s a small addition that would make a huge difference to its useability.
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Ninja Foodi MAX 15-in-1 SmartLid Multi Cooker review: Should you buy it?
Good as it is, it’s impossible to ignore the price. If you can live without the Ninja’s specialist functions then you really need to consider the Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus (£130). It might not be the best choice if you’re unfamiliar with pressure cooking, but it’s a lot cheaper and still has plenty of cooking functions to satisfy the needs of keen cooks.
For those looking to upgrade their current multi cooker to an appliance with more health-focussed cooking functions though, the 15-in-1 offers reasonable value for money. It has an excellent variety of functions, including classics like pressure and slow cooking, as well as five more unusual combination steam options.
What’s more, being able to cook a complete meal using the steam meals function makes preparing healthy, low fat dishes quick and simple. The air frying function needs to be improved, but that’s a minor nitpick – as do-it-all multi cookers go, the Ninja Foodi MAX 15-in-1 is the best one yet.