Ninja Foodi vs Speedi: Which multi-function air fryer is best?

A simple search on Amazon for the term "air fryer" brings up more than 800 results from 29 different brands. And that's just in the US. 

The household appliance has become a must-have for busy lifestyles and health-conscious food lovers and it's developed a cult following online with millions of searches for air fryer recipes being made each month. 

Within this hugely popular category, one name reigns supreme – Ninja. Read any best air fryers guide and Ninja air fryers will appear once, if not multiple times. In fact, of the 800+ air fryer listings on Amazon, more than 60 are from Ninja alone and these are largely the Ninja Foodi range, and the Ninja Speedi

The Ninja Foodi range – particularly the Ninja FD401 Foodi Deluxe – and the Speedi Rapid Cooker and Air Fryer have a number of similarities, as well as some key differences. In this guide, we'll explain how the two ranges work, what features they offer, and how they meet different budget, cooking, and kitchen needs to help you decide which one is best for you. 

Ninja Foodi vs Ninja Speedi: Design & Features

The $199.99 Ninja Speedi (Amazon) is a Rapid Cooker and Air Fryer in one. It has a 6qt capacity and offers 12 cooking settings across two modes. In Rapid Cooker mode, the functions are: Speedi meals, steam and crisp, steam and bake, steam, and proof. In Air Fryer mode you can: air fry, bake, roast, air broil, dehydrate, sear and sauté, slow cook, and sous vide. The beauty of the Ninja Speedi is, as the name suggests, the speed at which you can cook a complete, three-part meal in as little as 15 minutes in one pot. 

The Speedi looks more like a pressure cooker than a regular air fryer and measures 14.1in x 13.8in x 12.4in and weighs 16lbs. It has physical buttons and an LED display on the front panel that lets you manually control the time and temperature, and cycle through the modes and cooking settings. The cooker itself then contains two separate, removable compartments: a nonstick pot, and a crisper tray. 

The most like-for-like appliance in the Foodi range, in terms of price, size, and features, is the Ninja FD401 Foodi Deluxe XL (Amazon) . It's a pressure cooker and air fryer in one with an 8qt capacity, including a 5qt Cook & Crisp basket. Like the Speedi, the Foodi Deluxe offers 12 programmable cooking functions: pressure cook, air fry, steam, slow cook, yogurt, sear and sauté, bake, roast, air broil, dehydrate, sous vide, and keep warm. It costs $249.99, weighs 26lbs, and measures 16.1in x 14.57in x 14.29in. There are a number of touch controls but the majority of the settings are controlled via a physical dial below a digital display.  

There is also an upgraded Foodi Deluxe model called the Foodi SMART XL Pressure Cooker Steam Fryer (Amazon). It's $100 more expensive than the Deluxe and while it offers the same capacity and many of the same cooking functions and features as the Deluxe, it additionally has a built-in smart thermometer. It also features Ninja's proprietary SmartLid that lets you switch from pressure cooking to air frying without opening the appliance.

Ninja Foodi 6-in-1 XL Air Fryer being tested in writer's home

(Image credit: Future / Jennifer Oksien)

Elsewhere in the Foodi range are multiple air fryers for different budgets, family needs, and kitchen sizes. They don't offer quite as much versatility as the Foodi Deluxe or Speedi but this makes them easier to use. There are two dual-basket, 10qt, 6-in-1 models – the standard Ninja DZ401 (reviewed by us), and the smart Ninja DZ550 (Amazon). The former costs $229.99 while the latter is $20 more expensive at $249.99 because it has a built-in smart thermometer. 

The $179.99 Ninja Foodi FlexBasket (Amazon) is next in line. It has a 7qt capacity for larger birds and family dishes, or you can add the basket divider and cook multiple parts of a meal at once, even if they need different cooking times and temperatures. The smallest Ninja air fryer is the Air Fryer Pro XL (Amazon). It costs $169.99 and has a single 6.5qt basket. 

All of these Ninja air fryers offer six cooking functions and LED displays. The 10qt models and the FlexBasket air fryer have touch controls, while the Pro XL has physical buttons. Size-wise, the FlexBasket measures 18.19in x 11.81in x 11.26in and weighs 17.03 lbs. The Ninja DZ401 and Ninja DZ550 both weigh 19.8 lbs and are both 17.1in x 13.9in x 12.8in in size. While the Pro XL is the smallest in the range, weighing 11.4 lbs and measuring 14.9in L x 11.3in x 12in. 

Verdict: While it's more expensive, you do get slightly more bang for your buck with the Foodi Deluxe XL in terms of versatility. Its range of cooking functions is marginally broader and offers almost everything the Speedi does with the bonus of being a pressure cooker, too. If you're a keen cook, have more space, and have a specific need for pressure cooking and yogurt features then the Foodi Deluxe XL is your best bet. 

However, if you want to save money, are more interested in speed and efficiency, and don't care about the pressure cooking function then the Ninja Speedi is still a highly versatile, very worthwhile appliance. 

Ninja Foodi vs Ninja Speedi: Performance

Having a pressure cooking and air frying feature, like that seen on the Ninja Foodi Deluxe XL, does more than just increase the number of cooking options - it gives you more control over how your food is cooked. Especially meat. This is because you can cook the meat inside fast and under pressure to keep all the juice and flavor in, before switching to the air fryer mode to create a crispy finish. This is the closest you can get to the speed, juiciness, and finish of deep frying without the excess oil. It also helps you get the best roast meats too.  

The large size of the Foodi Deluxe XL is great for families or when you have friends over. You can fit a lot of food in it – like a whole chicken or lots of veggies. It’s perfect for making big meals all at once, saving you time and hassle.

By comparison, the Ninja Speedi is all about making cooking fast and easy. Its Rapid Cooking mode creates meals in just 15 minutes to the same quality as if they'd been cooked for longer. Yet the key feature that boosts its performance is its instant pot design. It doesn't just let you switch from one mode to another, or let you control different temperature zones, it lets you cook using different methods at the same time. You can steam vegetables, pasta, or other foods in the lower layer of the pot while simultaneously air frying in the upper layer, combining steam and convection technology at the same time. The Speedi isn't quite as big as the Foodi Deluxe XL, but it’s perfect for everyday cooking.

Verdict: The Ninja Speedi takes the crown for this category because of the quick and easy way you can make complete meals in minutes. All while having the option to use the many other functions found on both the Speedi and Foodi Deluxe. The Foodi Deluxe does perform well, particularly at cooking meat and other meals where a juicy center and crispy coating are the priority, it just doesn't quite offer the performance of the Speedi.

Ninja Speedi with two bowls of food

(Image credit: Amazon, Ninja)

Ninja Foodi vs Ninja Speedi: Care & Maintenance

Both the pot and basket inside the Ninja Foodi Deluxe have a nonstick coating meaning food and grease can be easily wiped off. The basket is also dishwasher safe making cleaning it super convenient, while also saving time. 

Cleaning around the outer rim at the top of the removable pot can be a bit of a challenge as can cleaning the air crisp lid, but there aren’t too many small parts or hard-to-reach places where food can get stuck so even cleaning these areas is relatively quick. Whether you’re just doing a quick rinse after making some fries or doing a deeper clean after a big cook, it won’t take up too much time.

The Ninja Speedi is also designed with easy cleaning in mind. Just like the Foodi Deluxe XL, it has a nonstick pot and a crisper tray. After cooking, you can usually just rinse them off or give them a gentle scrub, and they're ready to go. The fact that the Speedi’s pot and crisper tray are dishwasher-safe is a big plus. This is especially helpful if you’ve cooked something a bit greasy or sticky. Plus, not having to hand-wash these parts all the time can save you a lot of effort in the long run.

The design of the Ninja Speedi is quite simple, which is great for maintenance. It doesn’t have too many complicated parts, so there’s less to take apart and clean. It means you can use it every day without worrying about a big cleanup job afterward.

What's more, the steam function on both models can be run on their own to help clean the inside of the pots. 

Verdict: Both the Ninja Foodi Deluxe XL and the Ninja Speedi are winners when it comes to ease of cleaning and maintenance. They both have nonstick surfaces that make cleaning a breeze, and the fact many of their parts are dishwasher-safe is a bonus. 

Ninja Foodi vs Ninja Speedi: Price

With the increased popularity of air fryers, more and more brands are keeping prices low to appeal to more buyers. When you compare the Ninja range to the likes of air fryers from brands such as Bella and Chefman they look expensive. Almost unreasonably so. However, their versatility and performance do make them much better value than they may first appear. 

While the Ninja Foodi Deluxe XL sits at the higher end of even Ninja's pricey spectrum, its price point is justified by its large capacity and advanced features. The 10-quart capacity is great for cooking large meals, perfect for families or if you host a lot of gatherings. Its DualZone tech is another standout feature, letting you cook two different foods at the same time. This not only saves time and energy but also adds versatility to your cooking.

cooking a chicken in the ninja foodi air fryer

(Image credit: Future / Jennifer Oksien)

The Foodi Deluxe XL also offers a range of cooking functions beyond air frying, including pressure cooking, steaming, and baking. This multi-functionality means you're effectively getting several appliances in one, which can be a cost-effective option if you're looking to maximize your kitchen's capabilities as well as space. To 

Similarly, the Ninja Speedi offers the benefits of multiple appliances in one relatively small, great-value form. It doesn't quite have the full range of functions as the Foodi Deluxe but it does offer speed and efficiency. If you have a busy life, it's hard to put a price on saving precious time. It also doesn't skimp on functionality, despite its lower price. This makes it a valuable addition to any kitchen, especially if you want all the benefits of a multi-cooker without the higher price tag of more advanced models.

Verdict: The Ninja Speedi stands out as the winner in terms of price. It offers an impressive combination of rapid cooking capabilities and versatility at a more accessible price point. Its affordability also makes it a great entry point for anyone looking to upgrade their basic air fryer to a more versatile appliance. That's not to say the Ninja Foodi Deluxe XL isn't worth the money, and if pressure cooking is a dealbreaker then you'll struggle to get such an advanced model with such a broad range of features. It just can't quite compete with Speedi's value for money. 

Ninja Foodi vs Ninja Speedi: Our verdict

Both Foodi and Speedi models have their advantages, making them a great choice for different types of users and needs. 

The Foodi Deluxe XL is a powerhouse of versatility and capacity. It's perfect if you have a large family, like to experiment, and are big meat or roast eaters. Its range of cooking functions, including pressure cooking, air frying, steaming, slow cooking, and even yogurt making, provides almost endless possibilities. Yet such versatility does come at a cost. 

On the other hand, the Ninja Speedi shines in its ability to deliver complete meals quickly and efficiently. It's a great choice if you have a busy lifestyle or smaller kitchen spaces. The Speedi's rapid cooking system, capable of preparing a full meal in just minutes, is a game-changer for busy weeknights or when you need a nutritious meal without spending hours in the kitchen. While it may not have the pressure cooking capability of the Foodi Deluxe XL, it covers a broad range of cooking options that will cater to most of your daily cooking needs.

All things considered, the Ninja Foodi would be our choice but the Ninja Speedi is a strong contender. Its pressure cooker function and range of other options make it an adaptable appliance if you can spend the extra. 

Victoria Woollaston
Lifestyle and technology journalist

Victoria Woollaston is a freelance lifestyle and technology journalist with almost two decades of experience reviewing gadgets, beauty tech and household appliances for the likes of WIRED, TechRadar, Expert Reviews, Alphr and more.