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Is the Ninja Foodi air fryer a convection oven?

Quick Answer

The Ninja Foodi is technically considered an air fryer, but it does share some similarities with convection ovens. The main difference is that air fryers like the Ninja Foodi use rapid air circulation technology to cook foods, while convection ovens use a fan to circulate hot air. So while the Ninja Foodi can air fry, roast, broil, bake, and dehydrate, it is not the same as a full-size convection oven.

What is the Ninja Foodi?

The Ninja Foodi is a popular multi-cooker that can perform a variety of cooking functions. It is marketed as an all-in-one appliance that can replace several kitchen appliances and cook foods in ways that are crispy and deliciously browned without deep frying.

Some key features of the Ninja Foodi include:

  • Functions for air frying, pressure cooking, steaming, baking, roasting, broiling, dehydrating, and more
  • Uses rapid Cyclonic Air Technology to circulate hot air around food to achieve a crispy texture
  • Has a 6.5 quart ceramic-coated nonstick pot and 4 quart nonstick cook & crisp basket
  • Digital display with multiple programmable cooking settings
  • Ability to pressure cook quickly and then switch to air fry/crisp function
  • ETL certified with advanced safety features and easy cleaning

The Ninja Foodi is often marketed as an air fryer and pressure cooker combination. But with settings for bake, roast, broil, and dehydrate, some wonder if it can replace a full-size convection oven.

How Does the Ninja Foodi Work?

The Ninja Foodi relies on a few key technologies to cook food:

Rapid Cyclonic Air Circulation

This is what gives foods the crisp, browned, fried texture. A powerful fan circulates hot air around the food at high speeds to quickly cook and crisp the exterior. The constant motion of hot air replicates deep frying.

Pressure Cooking

The Ninja Foodi can pressure cook foods up to 70% faster than traditional cooking methods. Pressure cooking uses steam and pressure to raise the boiling point of water above 212°F. The higher temperature cooks food faster while trapping moisture.

Air Fry/Crisping Lid

The unique design includes a removable lid that allows you to switch from pressure cooking to air frying/crisping in the same pot. This means you can pressure cook meats or veggies to cook them quickly, then swap the lid to give them a crispy, golden air fried finish.

Ninja Foodi vs Convection Oven

While the Ninja Foodi utilizes some hot air circulation techniques, there are some key differences between it and a convection oven:

Cooking Chamber Size

The Ninja Foodi has a 6.5 quart ceramic coated pot for pressure cooking and a 4 quart cook & crisp basket for air frying. This small cooking capacity cannot accommodate larger dishes or batches of food that a full size convection oven can.

Heating Elements

Convection ovens have heating elements at the top and bottom while the Ninja Foodi relies on a heating coil and fan to circulate hot air. The Ninja Foodi does not have as powerful or precise temperature control.

Air Fryer vs Convection Bake

The Ninja Foodi uses rapid cyclonic air circulation to replicate deep frying results. Convection ovens use a fan to gently circulate hot air and provide even heating for baking, roasting, broiling, etc.

Temperature Range

Most convection ovens reach temperatures between 170-500°F. The Ninja Foodi Air Fryer setting has a maximum temperature of 450°F. The lower temperature limits what you can cook.

Cooking Functions

While the Ninja Foodi can air fry, pressure cook, broil, bake, roast, etc, a full convection oven provides more cooking modes like convection broil, convection bake, pizza mode, proofing, and more.

Fan Speeds

The Ninja Foodi uses one fan speed setting for air frying while convection ovens often have variable speed settings for optimum heat circulation.

Ninja Foodi Air Fry Oven Cooking Capacity

The relatively small cooking capacity of the Ninja Foodi air fryer oven makes it challenging to cook larger dishes. Here is what the Ninja Foodi can accommodate:

Ninja Foodi Pot

  • 6.5 quarts
  • Can hold a 5-6 lb chicken or roast
  • Can cook 4-6 portions of vegetables or sides
  • Good for stews, chili, oatmeal, etc for a family of 4

Ninja Foodi Cook & Crisp Basket

  • 4 quarts
  • Holds 2-3 lbs of french fries
  • Can hold 4 small chicken breasts or steaks
  • Good for appetizers and side dishes

For comparison, most full size convection ovens have an interior cavity of over 5 cubic feet which is nearly 10 times the size. This significantly limits the batch cooking ability. The Ninja Foodi best accommodates cooking for 1-4 people while a convection oven can cook food for large gatherings.

Dishes You Can Make in the Ninja Foodi

Despite the size limitations, the Ninja Foodi is quite versatile for making all kinds of delicious dishes:

Air Fryer Recipes

  • French fries
  • Chicken wings and nuggets
  • Baked veggies like potatoes, broccoli, carrots
  • Egg rolls
  • Potstickers
  • Flatbreads like naan

Pressure Cooker Meals

  • Chili, stews, and braised meats
  • Ribs and pulled pork
  • Soups and broths
  • Rice and grains
  • Beans and legumes
  • Cheesecake

Ninja Roast and Bake Dishes

  • Whole chickens and roasts
  • Meatloaf
  • Casseroles
  • Lasagna
  • Vegetable gratins
  • Small batch baked goods

While you can’t cook a 20 lb turkey or 4 racks of ribs, the Ninja Foodi can make scaled down versions of these recipes.

Tips for Convection Oven Style Cooking in the Ninja Foodi

While the Ninja Foodi doesn’t have the exact capabilities of a full convection oven, there are some tips to mimic the results:

  • Use the bake/roast setting at a lower temperature (325°F) for more gentle convection style heating
  • Let meat and poultry rest before crisping with air fry mode for juicy interiors
  • Brush oils and sauces on meats and veggies to help promote browning
  • Flip and toss items mid-way during air frying
  • Spray a bit of oil on air fryer basket and ingredients
  • Cook casseroles uncovered in a baking pan and finish topping with air fry mode
  • For small batches of baked goods, use baking pans that fit basket

With some trial and error, you can achieve nice convection style results. But you’ll have to cook smaller portion sizes than a real full size oven.

Pros of the Ninja Foodi Oven

Despite its limitations compared to true convection ovens, the Ninja Foodi does offer some nice benefits:

  • Doesn’t Heat Up Whole Kitchen – Since it’s small, it won’t make your kitchen hot like using a full size oven
  • Faster Preheating – The Ninja Foodi preheats in just a few minutes while large ovens can take 15-20+ minutes
  • Crispier Results – The rapid cyclonic air makes foods crisper than a typical oven
  • Less Oil for Frying – Air frying uses little to no oil to make “fried” foods, which is healthier
  • Pressure Cooking Function – Pressure cooking meats and stews is faster than oven braising
  • Convenient Size – Takes up less counter space than multiple appliances
  • Dishwasher Safe – All the parts and accessories are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning
  • Budget Friendly – Costs significantly less than a built-in wall oven

For small households, the Ninja Foodi can be a versatile all-in-one cooker. The convection oven capabilities are limited but the unique crisping, air frying and pressure functions add bonus possibilities a regular oven doesn’t have.

Cons of the Ninja Foodi Oven

The Ninja Foodi does have some drawbacks to consider before purchasing:

  • Small Capacity – Can only cook small batches of food at once
  • No Oven Window – The solid body makes it harder to monitor food
  • Lower Max Temperature – 450°F max temp limits what you can safely cook
  • Learning Curve – Takes some trial and error to master
  • Bulky Size – Quite large (17 x 19 inches) for a countertop cooker
  • Accessories Add Up – To unlock all functions, extra pans and attachments required
  • Not Energy Efficient – Uses more energy than a typical oven for the capacity
  • Questionable Durability – Some complaints of parts failing after a year

For its price point, the Ninja Foodi can be a good small cooker but doesn’t fully replace everything a full oven can do. Make sure your cooking needs match what it can realistically accomplish.

Alternatives to the Ninja Foodi Oven

If you decide the Ninja Foodi isn’t the right fit, here are some alternative small convection ovens to consider:

Cuisinart Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven

  • 0.95 cubic foot capacity
  • 15 cooking functions
  • Digital interface with presets
  • 1800 watts of power
  • Brushed stainless exterior

Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer

  • 0.8 cubic feet capacity
  • 13 cooking functions including air fry
  • Interior oven light
  • Digital precision temperature control
  • Accessories include air fry basket

Instant Pot Omni Plus

  • 10-in-1 functionality including air fry
  • 17 liter interior capacity
  • Convection fan for even heating
  • Built-in rotisserie spit
  • Dehydrate and proofing modes

Ninja SP101 Digital Air Fry Oven

  • 8-in-1 functionality
  • Flip up & away door for easy access
  • 30% faster preheating
  • 60% larger capacity than Ninja Foodi
  • Air fry, roast, broil, bake, dehydrate, toast, keep warm, reheat

Any of these more compact convection oven models can provide an alternative one-pot cooking solution to the Ninja Foodi.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you bake a cake in the Ninja Foodi?

Yes, you can bake cakes in the Ninja Foodi but you’ll have to stick to recipes designed for the 4 quart capacity. Opt for personal sized desserts and cakes rather than full sheet cakes.

What is the difference between the Ninja Foodi and the Ninja Foodi Grill?

The original Ninja Foodi is a pressure cooker and air fryer combo while the Ninja Foodi Grill focuses specifically on grilling indoors with an integrated grill grate surface.

Is the Ninja Foodi oven loud?

Yes, the Ninja Foodi oven can be quite loud due to the internal fan that runs constantly to circulate air while cooking. It runs around 65-80 decibels which is comparable to a regular vacuum.

Does the Ninja Foodi have a bake setting?

Yes, the Ninja Foodi oven has a dedicated bake function that can be used for baking casseroles, desserts, and more. It circulates heated air for even baking results.

Can you rotisserie cook in the Ninja Foodi?

No, the Ninja Foodi oven does not have a rotisserie function. For this cooking method, you’ll need an oven model that comes with a spit like the Instant Pot Omni Plus.


While the Ninja Foodi utilizes air frying and convection heating techniques, it is still considered an air fryer and not a true convection oven replacement due to size constraints. However, the Ninja Foodi can certainly cook small batches of food with convection-style results. With the addition of pressure cooking and crisping lid, it provides additional cooking functions that a typical oven does not.

For small families that want a compact cooker with the bonus of air frying, the Ninja Foodi is a compelling choice. But larger households will be better served by a more spacious countertop convection oven or investing in a full-size oven. Assess your specific cooking needs and capacity requirements before deciding if the Ninja Foodi is worth purchasing over a dedicated convection oven model.