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Ninja Foodi Smart XL Pro Grill, Griddle & Air Fryer Review

Ninja Foodi Smart XL Pro with dinner

Years ago, when I first started playing around and reviewing indoor grills, there was definitely some skepticism.

After working for some time with the original Ninja Foodi Grill, I had a change of heart. The original was, and continues to be, a workhorse—and I still recommend it. 

Fast forward a few years and the newest edition to the the Ninja family came along. The Ninja Foodi Smart XL Pro Grill & Griddle is now my top choice for indoor grilling. The changes from the original are significant and purpose driven.

ninja grill and manual

Capacity increased and grill heating improved. Important added features include a temperature probe, a large griddle surface, and a hood that allows cooking with the hood up or down. 

Overall, of the countless indoor grills I’ve reviewed, this is the best unit on the market today.   

stir fry is easy with Ninja Foodi Smart Grill

Item Specs: Ninja Foodi Smart XL Grill (Model IG6 series)

  • Product Dimensions (in.): 15.7 W x 17.4 D x 11.63 H
  • Wattage: 1760
  • Capacity
    • 9 x 13-inch grill grate fits 6 steaks
    • 12-inch flat top bbq griddle cooks a whole platter of nachos or fits 4 sandwiches or 6 pancakes
    • 4 quart crisper basket
  • Cord Length: 3 feet
  • Dishwasher Safe: Much but not all
close up of functions, including grill, roast, broil, back, bbq griddle, air crisp and dehydrate

What We Loved

There are so many great features to talk about with the Ninja Foodi Smart XL Pro Grill & Griddle. First, the grill surface itself is now heated electrically as opposed to only via hot air from the unit’s hood.

close up showing electrical heat unit on bottom

The hood still circulates heat of course, making use of a fan that’s covered by a removable and washable screen that significantly reduces smoke.

The new electrically heated grill grate, which plugs into the unit via electrical connectors on the bottom of the grill grate, provides a more evenly heated cooking surface. From edge to edge and corner to corner.

bottom side of grill grate, showing electrical connectors

In addition to the even heat distribution, the electrical heating allows for faster surface temperature recovery time when cooking multiple steaks, fish filets, burgers, etc.

Having the ability to grill with the hood open also simulates more of the outdoor grilling experience. This is a function I find myself using almost exclusively when grilling steaks, and pork chops.

grill marks on steak

The grilled food looks and smells great even though it’s on your countertop instead of your patio.

Perfect grill marks are achievable every time. There’s just something sort of primal about watching your food cooking and hearing it sizzle. 

I was impressed with the performance and even heating of the griddle surface, which opens many more options for cooking. Don’t limit yourself to pancakes and eggs or the occasional smash burger.

The griddle surface is perfect for making homemade Chicken Pad Thai, at a fraction of the cost you’d pay for take out, and twice the flavor.

chicken pad thai on Ninja grill

The griddle also excelled when cooking things like Philly cheese steaks, Mongolian bbq, stir fry, etc. The XL capacity makes it possible to feed a small crowd at breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

The air fry function of this grill is a hidden gem. I’ve used a number of dedicated single-function air fryers over the past year; all with issues I didn’t like.

I’d say the air fry function of this grill beats them all—despite the fact that air frying isn’t the primary function of the Ninja Foodi Grill. That was certainly a nice surprise.

 Air Fry is called “air crisp” on the Ninja Foodi Grill, and it comes with an air crisp basket that’s perfect for french fries, wings, etc.

air crisp tray

The air fry function preheated quickly, and the food was perfectly cooked without that “plasticy” smell and taste that I have experienced with other units. What’s more, it works at the touch of a button and it’s relatively quiet as compared to other air fryers I’ve used, which is a big plus.

Small Details That Elevate the Ninja Foodi Smart Grill

The available temperature probe is very helpful for alerting you (and the grill) to the internal temperature of whatever you’re cooking. I found this exceptionally valuable in larger foods, such as a spatchcock chicken.

The smart technology will actually turn off the grill for you when the food you’re cooking reaches the desired temperature. No more worries! You can now achieve the perfect doneness from rare to medium-rare, or whatever level you prefer.

temperature probe

Finally, the clean up…cleaning the Ninja Foodi Grill and Griddle couldn’t be any easier. The grill surface and griddle are both dishwasher safe and come out of the dishwasher looking brand new. 

 Pressing an obviously placed large orange button releases the grill grate surface, allowing it to go right into the dishwasher for simple clean up.

close up of orange button for grill tray release

What Could Be Improved

Sadly, while the newest version of the Ninja Foodi Grill does have a bake function, there is no baking pan included, or even available for purchase. I have no idea why that is, but it’s a missed opportunity.

So, while you can bake a potato for example, baking a cake or brownies or anything starting in liquid form is a bit of a challenge. I found an aftermarket baking pan that fits inside the unit, on top of the griddle surface, but it would be nice if there was a dedicated baking pan available. This was one of those things that just made me think “come on man.”

The other issue is the weight of the unit. Buyers should be aware that the grill is a tad bit on the heavy side. Not unreasonably so, but heavy nonetheless. It’s best kept sitting on the countertop because moving it in and out of a cabinet isn’t a delicate task. 

Who Is It For?

Like the original unit, this indoor cooking unit is great for apartment or condo dwellers, RV enthusiasts, or those in a military barracks or college dorm. Those would be the obvious choices though, right? 

If you’ve followed my blog for long, you know I have more grills than most people have teeth, so an indoor grill wouldn’t be a great gift for someone like me…or would it? Check out my final thoughts for more. 

Final Thoughts on the New Ninja Grill

I use the Ninja Foodi Grill Smart XL Grill & Griddle all the time. It heats up faster than my outdoor grills, cleans up easier, controls smoke very well, and I’m not dependent on good weather to cook a perfect steak. 

Add to that, the griddle surface is just plain cool, and I find myself exploring the world of griddle cooking more and more. Sure I have a griddle for my outdoor grill, but it’s just not always practical.

Pad thai and egg rolls in front of Ninja foodi smart grill

Is it better than a high-end outdoor grill? Of course not, it would be silly to think so, but that’s not the point. The Ninja Foodi Grill won’t replace your outdoor grill. However, it is a reliable substitute for the outdoor grill when time, weather, or space are factors. 

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