Should I buy the Ninja Air Fryer Max XL for Christmas?

Ninja AF161 Max XL Air Fryer
(Image credit: Amazon, Ninja)

I'm sure every family has had the air fryer conversation leading up to Christmas. It's becoming a more-than-common gift idea for anybody who loves cooking, and it isn't hard to see why. Air fryers bring a lot into your kitchen, from faster cooking to crispier food to cooking with less oil. All of this is in a compact countertop machine. 

Specifications

Model: AF161

Capacity: 5.5 quarts

Power: 1750 Watts

Weight: 11.7 lbs

Voltage: 120 volts

Cord Length: 2.6 ft

Dimensions: 14 x 11 x 14.75 inches

The Air Fryer Max XL is easily one of Ninja's most popular air fryers. It sits comfortably in the mid-range, offering plenty of cooking features at a reasonably affordable price. And, as Ninja produces some of the best air fryers available, it makes sense as to why it now lives in so many people's kitchens.

But will this air fryer make a good gift? Whether it's for yourself or for someone close to you, you want to make sure your decision is the right one. I write about air fryers for a living, so I have a strong knowledge of who each air fryer is best suited to and how they compare to others in the market.

Read on for an overview of the air fryer's specs, features, design, and benefits. And, if you missed out on grabbing it this Christmas, you might even get it even cheaper in the after Christmas sales.

Ninja Air Fryer Max XL: Price & availability

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Ninja Air Fryer Max XL | was $169.99, now $100.29 at Ninja (save 41% with code DEC41)

Ninja is currently running an offer on their website where you can get 41% off the Air Fryer Max XL with the code DEC41 - taking the price down to $100.29. The offer is valid up until 14 December.

You can also buy a used (like new) model at Amazon for $99.99. But as the price is so similar to Ninja's, I'd recommend buying a brand new one.

Price Check: Amazon ($99.99 - used) | Walmart ($125) | Kohl's ($149.99)

Alternative Pick: Instant Pot 6 Quart Air Fryer

Ninja Air Fryer Max XL: Design

The black/grey exterior and silver basket handle have grown to become Ninja's distinct air fryer design, and the Air Fryer Max XL is no different. It's neutral enough to blend in with most kitchen decors and sleek enough that it feels like the modern appliance that it is. I'm personally a big fan of subtle design when it comes to appliances, but if you prefer flashier colors, this might not be the best for your kitchen. 

This is a single-basket air fryer. Some prefer dual baskets as they allow you to cook two foods at once, avoiding the wait time of back-to-back cooking. But the advantage of single-basket air fryers comes down to being able to utilize the whole cooking capacity at once, which can be ideal for frying and roasting larger foods. 

The air fryer is controlled using a one-touch control panel. It's a simple way to operate the cooker, particularly with how clear and easy-to-use the controls are.

A key thing to consider here is the size. The air fryer measures up to 14 x 11 x 14.75 inches, so it could well be worth checking to see if your kitchen counter space has enough space for it. Although it has XL in the name, this is still smaller than many of the large air fryers out there - and might be a happy medium for many.

Ninja Air Fryer Max XL: Key features

What draws me in with the Air Fryer Max XL is its simplicity. There are 7 cooking functions to choose from: max crisp, air fry, air roast, air broil, bake, reheat, and dehydrate. All you have to do is select the cooking mode, temperature, and time - and the air fryer takes care of the rest (aside from maybe flipping/tossing your food a few times).

The Air Fryer Max XL has a feature that Ninja calls 'Max Crisp' - a cooking mode that delivers 450 degrees of superheated air for hotter and crispier food, cooked in less time than usual. This, to me, is the real benefit of having an air fryer. Food that's crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside can't always be achieved through pan frying or oven cooking (unless you use a lot of oil, which this air fryer avoids). So, knowing that my air fryer could do what I always hoped it could is a big reason for me to consider buying it.

5.5 quarts can fit around 3 lbs of chicken wings or French fries, which is plenty of cooking space for a whole family. But, on average, air fryers range from around 4 to 10 quart capacities, so there are definitely larger ones available if you're looking for more space. 

The basket and crisper plate are ceramic-coated and non-stick - a big help when it comes to cleaning, but also to avoid having your food stick to the side and fall apart. They're also dishwasher safe, too, to make things easier post-cook. 

With a temperature range of 105 to 450 degrees, you're given plenty of room to play with in terms of cooking. When it comes to something like Christmas dinner, the Air Fryer Max XL could be a trusty assistant to help get all the various meats and veg cooked in time (pigs in blankets, anyone?).

ninja air fryer

(Image credit: Ninja)

So, should I buy it?

To get straight to the point, the Ninja Air Fryer Max XL is fantastic value for money. A lot of cooking features are packed into a sleek and fairly compact appliance, and the Max Crisp function should be able to produce food that's both crispy and juicy. 

I'd consider this as a gift for anybody who doesn't currently own an air fryer. It brings something new to a person's cooking repertoire and can be a fun way to enjoy fried food that's less oily and fatty. It has enough cooking functions to get started without being too overcomplicated for somebody's first air fryer. Plus, it looks good and doesn't take up too much space - so you don't have to worry about gifting somebody an in-the-way eyesore. 

It's also not far off its lowest price ever. In the past, the Ninja Air Fryer Max XL has dropped as low as $89.95, so that's only around $10 cheaper than what you'd get it for at Ninja right now. You could potentially wait to see if it'll get cheaper in a future sale, but if you're looking to buy it as a gift, then now would be a good time to grab it.

But personally, I wouldn't buy this air fryer for myself. If making the investment, I'd prefer to spend on something with more cooking functions, like an air fryer that can also steam, toast, and/or slow cook - like the Ninja Combi All-in-One (Amazon) or the Instant Pot Duo Crisp (Amazon). Another key factor, for me, is the capacity. 5.5 quarts is large enough to feed a group of people, but I'd prefer an extra appliance to offer extra capabilities, like being large enough to roast an entire chicken quicker than my oven. The Cosori 13 Quart Air Fryer Oven (Amazon) is perfect for this and even has a dedicated rotisserie function.

Of course, this all comes down to personal preference, and I'd rather go for a larger air fryer because of my cooking habits. Even though I wouldn't buy it for myself, I think it'd make a thoughtful and useful gift for anybody who enjoys cooking (or eating).

Dan Fauzi
Features Editor

Dan Fauzi is the Features Editor of Top Ten Reviews, with experience in digital product writing across all sorts - including tech, outdoor living, sports, and homes & gardens. Outside of work you'll find them at gigs, exploring creative spaces, or cooking up something good in the kitchen.