The Want Not Review: Ninja Cooking System

About a month ago I was contacted from the nice folks from Ninja, wanting to know if I would be interested in trying out their 3-in-1 cooking system. I couldn’t say yes fast enough—as a long time slow cooker addict (and huge fan of Stephanie O’Dea, crock cooker extraordinaire who sings their praises), I had been intensely curious about this supposedly do-it-all machine… though not quite curious enough to pony up $200 for one (especially because I already own four crock pots). (Oh, stop looking at me like that. I use them all! Regularly! I can stop any time I want to.)

Anyway, my Ninja arrived and I decided I would take it for a spin by trying to do some things you can’t do with a traditional slow cooker. The Ninja can function as a regular slow cooker—and does so just fine, with low, high, and keep warm settings, as well as a programmable timer (side note: a couple of my crocks aren’t programmable, but having a machine that automatically flips to warm after the prescribed cooking time is awesome)—but it can also work as a roaster or even kind of like an electric skillet. Ah! I decided to make tom ka gai (a Thai coconut chicken soup I love), because my recipe calls for sauteeing of oil and spices and then mushrooms before everything can go into your crock pot. Ordinarily I skip any crock recipe that requires me to dirty another pot beforehand (think “brown the meat” and other such directives; either I just skip it or move on to another recipe). To me, the main appeal of crock pot cooking is only getting one pot dirty.

I put my Ninja on the requisite “stovetop” setting and did my sauteeing in a snap (it heats up really quickly). Then I flipped it over to “slow cook,” added my other ingredients, and let the soup go for another five hours or so. It was delicious (and my house smelled good all day—another reason to use a crock pot!) and I only got one pot dirty.

A few days later I slow cooked a batch of dried beans in it, and when it was done I decided to make my bean dip recipe in the cooker instead of spreading it all in a pan and putting it in the oven. It worked great, and had the added bonus of being a lot easier to clean the pan that goes in the oven. (The Ninja cooking vessel is non-stick, and cleans up much better than the ceramic crocks in my other cookers. You know how a conventional crock gets a weird white film in it when you cook beans that never seems to come off no matter how much you scrub? No such problem in the Ninja.)

According to the booklet that came with it, I can insert the included rack and then steam bake a cake inside of this sucker, if I want to. I haven’t tried that yet, but once Summer rolls around and I’m reluctant to turn the oven on I may try. Something I will be doing, though, is using the Ninja at Thanksgiving. I typically use all of my slow cookers on the big day both to free up the oven for the turkey and free up me for hanging out with our guests—I can put most of our sides in the cookers early in the morning and then not worry about them for the rest of the day. The one side that breaks my one-pot rule this way has always been the mashed potatoes; I have to make them on the stovetop, then transfer to a crock. But I think I can make them directly in the Ninja this year. I’ll have to report back and let you know.

Bottom line: I really like the Ninja for being everything a slow cooker should be, as well as expanding functionality to eliminate extra pots and even step in as an oven substitute.

This is the part where I remind you that I received my Ninja for free, but all opinions are my own. This is also the part where it would be super fantastic if I told you that I have one to offer up to all of you. But… will you throw things if I ask you to be patient? All I’m saying is that it’s nearly Thanksgiving, which means Big Prize Week is coming up. So maybe you should just make sure you’re around next week, is all I’m saying.

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30 Responses to “The Want Not Review: Ninja Cooking System”

  1. 1
    Stephanie ODea November 13, 2012 at 10:08 am #

    Yay! I’m happy you like your Ninja! oxox

  2. 2
    beth s November 13, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    ooh, thanks so much for this review. i’ve bben wracking my brain coming up with a xmas gift for DH that he’d actually want and this is perfect. out slow cooker is giving up the ghost and he loves to use it. and saving that extra pan to saute and precook meat helps me too. :-) how do husbands manage to dirty every single item in the kitchen to make one batch of chili int he crock pot?

  3. 3
    Melissa November 13, 2012 at 10:19 am #

    Sounds fantastic! Thanks for your review!

  4. 4
    Jen November 13, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    I have never heard of this device before (and it’s possible that I might also have four slow cookers but what happens if one of them breaks? huh? WHAT THEN??? Then you’ll all be GLAD I have an identical one at the ready!), but it looks really interesting. Thanks for the review.

  5. 5
    HG November 13, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    Clearly I need this. Here’s to hoping I win one ;)

  6. 6
    Karen W November 13, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    Now I want one of these. But, what I would like even more is if you could share your soup recipe :)

  7. 7
    Lara November 13, 2012 at 10:47 am #

    Wow, sounds like a great product. I’ll have to go check it out as I need a bigger/better crock pot/cooker. My current crock pot is great but it is just not big enough for the extended family cooking.

  8. 8
    Holly November 13, 2012 at 10:51 am #

    Sounds ah-mazing!!

  9. 9
    Julie (etsy stalkers) November 13, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    awesomeness. you should really give yours to me since you’re already a crockpot hoarder.

    http://www.etsystalkers.com/

  10. 10
    Amanda November 13, 2012 at 11:20 am #

    I just made chili and was annoyed that I had to dirty a pan before throwing it all in the crockpot to simmer all day.

    But $200? Seems crazy. Guess I’ll check back next week.

  11. 11
    Sheila November 13, 2012 at 11:25 am #

    Thanks for the review! It sounds great. I think I’d like it and would love to give it a try.

  12. 12
    mkw November 13, 2012 at 11:38 am #

    i adore slow cooker cooking. . . have been wondering about this Ninja. . . thanks

  13. 13
    DawnA November 13, 2012 at 11:54 am #

    Thanks for the review. I want one. Very bad.

  14. 14
    Mir November 13, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

    Karen W: I like to riff on Tyler Florence’s recipe, but I always start by heating some coconut oil and sauteeing the aromatics/spices before adding the broth. I think it makes it infinitely better!

  15. 15
    Celeste November 13, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

    Ok, seriously, now I feel like giving myself a head-slap. All these years, I could have been using the gaggle of crock pots at my house to do all the casserole side dishes in. Wow.

  16. 16
    Mir November 13, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    Celeste! It will change. your. life. I get up and do a couple of hours of prep and by the time the guests come and say “What can I do to help?” I just point at the row of crocks and say, “Nothing. It’s all done.”

  17. 17
    aj November 13, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    This looks like the coolest thing since sliced bread

  18. 18
    Teresa November 13, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

    Sounds awesome and I love that it fixes some of those other crock pot imperfections. Now I cannot stop thinking about making soup though…

  19. 19
    Gloria November 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    I hope I win. I hope I win. I hope I win.

  20. 20
    Emily November 13, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    Wow. This sounds amazing. I may have just figured out what to ask my mom for for hanukkah. Off to research more. I too hate having to dirty a pan to brown my meat before I throw it in the crock pot.

  21. 21
    Jenn November 13, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

    I saw this at Target over the weekend. I really want one, but that is way too far out of my budget. It does look really awesome though.

    I own 10 slowcookers. I use 7 of them all the time. The others are extras for parties and holidays.

  22. 22
    Elizabeth November 13, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

    I recently went and looked for Stephanie’s web site, I followed her diligently that first year and own both her cook books,,,, what’s up with the person who snagged the same name on her website????? I almost fell for it, but glad I had my cookbook to go check her name for sure! Anyway, I saw she was recommending the Ninja and wondered about it,,,,, and fancy you, trying it out now! and now of course, I WANT ONE!
    And just today did a stew where I was cursing browning the meat and onions first before throwing in the crock,,,,,,, God bless you girl!

  23. 23
    Sharon November 13, 2012 at 11:46 pm #

    I saw these advertised, I think at bed, bath, and beyond. I was interested, but now may have to give hints to DH so that I can get one this Christmas. I love my slow cooker!

  24. 24
    Erin November 14, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

    That sounds AWESOME. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at a crock pot recipe and thought “Nah, too much work, what with the meat browning and all” and moved on to a different recipe. This is genius!

  25. 25
    Robyn November 14, 2012 at 11:49 pm #

    Methinks I need one of these gems…

  26. 26
    Heather November 15, 2012 at 7:28 am #

    Woohoo!

  27. 27
    not supergirl November 15, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    Aww man, what a smart idea! I’m an underachiever, apparently, because I only have one crockpot. Yesterday, I used it to stew chicken for chicken and noodles, and today it’s doing a pot roast for me. I’m in the market for a replacement, because while this one has three settings (high, low and warm), it only seems to do high cooking. Now I wish I could spend the $$ on the Ninja, but I will probably have to keep to the lower priced stuff, dang it. Stil, it sounds wonderful. I’ll keep dreaming. :)

  28. 28
    not supergirl November 15, 2012 at 11:17 am #

    To clarify: the smart idea I was referring to is the stovetop setting. Brilliant!

  29. 29
    Tracey November 15, 2012 at 3:03 pm #

    Oh, I NEED this. LIke I need caffeine in the morning and blood in my veins. I love my crock pot and this may be the best kitchen cooker ever.

    WANT Drool Slobber WANT

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  1. 2012 Big Prize Week Day 1: Ninja Cooking System | Want Not - November 19, 2012

    [...] remember when I reviewed the Ninja Cooker last week? And I said I’d have one to give away? I thought there could be no better way to [...]