When I put the Ninja Foodi FlexBasket Air Fryer to the test, I found a competent kitchen companion that works hard and fast to make multiple servings of meals. Although this air fryer works well with softer produce and delicate processes, the pre-set modes err on the side of overcooking.
Easy to use and simple to clean
Basket divider offers flexible capacity
On the more expensive side
Basket proves tough to tip
Less suitable for smaller kitchens
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The Ninja Foodi FlexBasket Air Fryer combines the versatility of a dual-basket design with the capacity of a single-basket mega-zone. When you use the basket divider, you can cook diverse foods at different times and temperatures and press 'sync finish' for easy plating. When you remove the divider, you unlock additional cooking capacity to roast large cuts of protein or broil the top of your traybake.
Powered by a 1690W fan, the Ninja Foodi FlexBasket Air Fryer works quickly and quietly to cut down on cooking time. This hard and fast approach delivers charred yet crunchy vegetables, but it's prone to overcooking carbohydrates and proteins. If you're keen to keep a little juice in your food, you might want to forgo the pre-set cooking modes and set your own times and temperatures.
I'm part of a product testing team here at H&G. Together, we've tested some of the world's best air fryers, from large multicookers to more compact machines. I know my way around an air fryer and I can spot a flaw in design from a mile away. I tested the Ninja Foodi FlexBasket Air Fryer with nuggets, French fries, Mediterranean vegetables, and bacon rashers to assess how it cooks across common air fryer meals. I also documented the unboxing and cleaning processes to give you the fullest possible picture of what it might be like to use this product.
Ninja Foodi FlexBasket Air Fryer
Ninja Foodi FlexBasket Air Fryer Specifications
|18.9 x 11.81 x 11.26"
|1 min - 12 hours
|Air broil; air fry; roast; bake; reheat; dehydrate.
Unboxing the Ninja Foodi FlexBasket Air Fryer
The Ninja Foodi FlexBasket Air Fryer arrived double-wrapped in cardboard boxes to protect against knocks and bumps in transit. As I opened the box, I was pleased to see egg-crate cushioning and cardboard sleeves. Sustainable packaging makes such a difference, especially when you remember that each component of an air fryer arrives individually wrapped. When you buy one of the best Ninja air fryers, there's no need to worry about single-use plastic ending up in landfill: you can just throw your packaging straight into the recycling.
Weighing a whopping 17 pounds, the Ninja Foodi FlexBasket Air Fryer proved pretty unwieldy. I struggled to lift it out of the box and onto the countertop, even once I'd caught hold of the handle. I always wish that such heavy appliances came in lift-off boxes, so I could simply lift the lid and push the air fryer from the base of the box straight onto the kitchen counter. If you suffer from arthritis or struggle with mobility issues, then you might want to ask a friend or family member to assist you with the unboxing process.
Standing just 11 inches tall, the Ninja Foodi FlexBasket Air Fryer should easily slot beneath low cabinets. With that said, this machine measures 18 inches across, and might take up a lot of room on your kitchen counters, especially once you've set it five inches away from the wall. I wouldn't recommend this air fryer for use in smaller kitchens, unless you're prepared to sacrifice some space.
A lot of the latest and greatest air fryers feature pre-set cooking modes for specific foods – a chicken or bacon setting, for example – with recommended cook times and temperatures. The Ninja Foodi FlexBasket Air Fryer features six pre-set modes for particular cooking processes, instead. You can set your machine to air broil or reheat, roast, bake, or fry, and use multiple modes simultaneously across the two baskets. There's even a dehydrate function, if you'd like to make your own dried fruit or beef jerky.
Test 1: Nuggets
Whenever I'm testing an air fryer, I like to start with a simple meal of nuggets and fries. It's not the most ambitious meal, nor the most nutritious, but it shows me exactly how an air fryer handles proteins versus carbohydrates. Plus, it might look similar to something you'd whip up for your kids on a busy weeknight. I inserted the basket divider and poured my nuggets into the left-hand side, which I set to cook on the 'air fry' mode for 15 minutes at 375°F.
The nuggets were already beginning to brown and crisp at the edges around the eight-minute mark. I wondered whether I should intervene and switch off the air fryer before the clock ran out. Then again, I must have cooked pound after pound of frozen nuggets in air fryer tests, and I've seen the best results at this cook time and temperature. I decided to set my worries aside and let the air fryer finish.
After 15 minutes, I removed my nuggets from the Ninja Foodi FlexBasket and served up lunch for my fellow product testers, Alex and Laura. We quickly observed that that the nuggets were overcooked: dry and cracked on the outside, with just a little juice in the center. If I were cooking them again, I'd eschew the 'air fry' setting and choose my own time and temperature.
Test 2: French fries
While my nuggets fried in the left-hand basket, I set French fries to sizzle on the right. I was keen to test the 'sync finish' function and see how the Ninja Foodi FlexBasket handled such different foods at the same time.
I selected the 'air fry' setting and adjusted it slightly. I like my French fries crisp and crunchy, so I wanted them to cook at a slightly higher temperature for a little longer. I loaded my nuggets and fries into the air fryer at the same time and pressed 'start'. That's what I love most about the FlexBasket design: the convenience of making a whole meal in one pot.
Around the halfway mark, I decided to check in and see how my fries were getting on. That's when I encountered the biggest problem with the FlexBasket design. The divider might create the impression of two baskets, but there's still only one handle. As soon as you open the drawer, you let out heat from both baskets, which disrupts coooking.
As I looked into the baskets, I could see that the fries were already golden brown, just eight minutes in. In order to avoid overcooking, I decided to shut off the right-hand basket a minute or two ahead of schedule and serve the French fries at the same time as the Quorn nuggets. They looked good in the bowl, but they tasted pretty dry. While we ate all the nuggets in a single sitting, it took us hours to finish the French fries, which didn't get any better as they began to cool.
Test 3: Mediterranean vegetables
Following the disappointment of the nuggets and fries, I wasn't feeling too optimistic going into the Mediterranean vegetables test. I wasn't sure how the Ninja Foodi FlexBasket would handle tougher textures and slower cooking.
First, I removed the basket divider to create a wide open space. I took a bag of frozen vegetables and poured chunks of eggplant, zucchini, and red and yellow peppers into the basket. In the absence of a specific pre-set, I cooked the vegetables at 370°F for 10 minutes.
To my surprise, this was the Ninja Foodi FlexBasket Air Fryer's best effort. The vegetables came out charred around the edges yet juicy in the center. While these weren't the best air-fried vegetables I've ever tasted, they were far from the worst.
As I plated up, I found another flaw in the FlexBasket design. The drawer is so deep and wide that it proved a little difficult to lift. With your average air fryer, you can simply slide out the basket and pour out the food. With the Ninja Foodi FlexBasket Air Fryer, I had to get a spoon to scoop the vegetable chunks onto my plate.
Test 4: Bacon
For my final air fryer test, I like to lay a few strips of bacon at the bottom of each basket: since I was the only meat-eater in the test kitchen that day, I decided to stick with two rashers. In this test, I'm keen to see how well the fat renders and how quickly the meat cooks. In the hopes of getting nice, crunchy bacon, I set each basket to cook at 390°F for eight minutes.
The moral of that story: be careful what you wish for. The Ninja Foodi FlexBasket cooked the bacon to a crisp. The rasher in the right-hand basket was cooked so quickly and intensely that it began to blacken and curl up on itself.
I didn't enjoy eating this bacon. It was so crunchy that it became crumbly. Again, if it had cooked at a slightly lower heat for a slightly shorter amount of time, this taste test could have gone very differently, but I was only following Ninja's instructions.
Cleaning the Ninja Foodi FlexBasket Air Fryer
While the Ninja Foodi FlexBasket Air Fryer basket and crisper-plate are technically dishwasher-safe, I prefer to wash each piece by hand in warm, soapy water. I find it easier to clean the nooks and crannies of the machine and protect the non-stick coating. As for the outside of the machine, all it should need is a quick wipe with a damp cloth to look as good as new.
How does the Ninja Foodi FlexBasket Air Fryer rate online?
The Ninja Foodi FlexBasket boasts thousands of five-star reviews online, praising its ease of use and ease of cleaning. A few reviewers note the width and depth of the machine and recommend that you clear some counter space before cooking. While most customers appreciate the basket divider for the versatility it offers, others argue that a fully-fledged dual basket design would have been more effective. I can see their point: as it stands, you can't check on one side of the machine without disturbing the other.
How does the Ninja Foodi FlexBasket compare to other air fryers?
The Ninja Foodi FlexBasket Air Fryer is a quiet, quick cooker, but it isn't the most accurate. If you're looking for a fast air fryer that won't overwork itself, you should consider the Ninja Foodi 6-in-1 XL Dual Basket Air Fryer. You can broil, bake, roast and reheat at temperatures as high as 450°F.
The Ninja Foodi FlexBasket would make a competent kitchen companion for busy cooks who are keen to save time on their regular recipes. If you prefer to experiment in the kitchen, you might get more use out of a multicooker. With the Instant Pot Duo Crisp with Ultimate Lid, you can sauté onions and prove sourdough, slow cook lamb and steam broccoli, all in one pot.
Measuring more than a foot and a half wide, the Ninja Foodi Flex Basket might not fit in a smaller kitchen. For a cute and compact machine, look no further than the Ninja Max XL Air Fryer. Just 12 inches tall, it should easily slot beneath low countertops, but it's deceptively capacious, with enough room to make multiple servings of meals,
Should you buy the Ninja Foodi FlexBasket Air Fryer?
The Ninja Foodi FlexBasket Air Fryer retails for around $180 on Amazon, though it's regularly discounted. I'd hesitate to recommend it at full price. The pre-set modes are a little too long and too strong, which produced crisp carbs and dry protein on test, though the vegetables were still pretty juicy. Then, there's the size of the machine, which might crowd the counters in smaller kitchens. If you have some cash and space to spare, and you're happy to play around with the pre-sets, then you might get a lot of use out of the Ninja Foodi FlexBasket Air Fryer. Otherwise, I recommend going back to the drawing board and considering another of the best air fryers.
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Before she joined Homes & Gardens, Emilia studied English at the University of Oxford, where she sharpened her critical writing skills. She also worked on the other side of the aisle writing press releases for regional newspapers and crafting copy for Sky. Emilia combines her business savvy with her creative flair as our eCommerce Editor, connecting you with the products you’ll love. When she’s not in the office, Emilia is happiest when entertaining friends al fresco or out in the country.
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