Can the Ninja Speedi air fryer really replace your oven?

air fryer vs oven
Can an air fryer really replace your oven? Hearst Owned

Thanks to its oil-free cooking skills, ease of use and speedy results, the humble air fryer seems set for world domination.

Over the past few years, they’ve gone from niche kitchen appliance for homemade chip fans to the modern cook's one-stop device for making everything from chicken wings to cookies. In fact, more and more air fryers on the market now have multi-cooker capabilities. But the question remains: can an air fryer really replace your oven?

Enter the Ninja ‘15-minute meals in one pot’ Speedi. Ninja is a leading brand in the air fryer world, and its rapid cooker and air fryer hybrid, the Speedi, claims to be able to fix up an entire meal in less time than the humble oven. It can steam, slow cook, and even sauté. In the lab, our experts scored it an impressive 88/100, praising its stellar cooking skills and rating it highly for ease of use and convenience.

Sounds like the ultimate multi-tasker, but how does it measure up to your faithful oven? I decided to find out – here's everything you need to know.

What are the benefits of an air fryer vs. an oven?

Speed is one of the air fryer's key benefits. Because it has a smaller cooking chamber and uses an intense fan to blow heat over the food, it achieves faster results than a conventional oven.

Air fryers are also more energy efficient and therefore potentially more cost-effective. Most air fryers need between 800 and 1800 watts of electricity to run (the Ninja Speedi is at the top end at 1760W), while ovens typically require 2,200 to 5000 watts. And given that air fryers work faster, that means less of a drain on your electricity bill. That said, while the Speedi can manage a full meal for up to four people, if you're feeding a larger group, you're probably better off putting everything in the oven, or opting for the large-capacity Ninja Foodi MAX Dual Zone.

An air fryer also guarantees crispy results. Yes, you can cook chips and chicken wings perfectly well in your normal oven, but they just won't have the golden crunch you get in the air fryer, which, as the name suggests, is literally made for the job.

What is the Ninja Speedi?

With 10 preset programmes, the Ninja Speedi is designed to steam, bake, grill, sear, dehydrate, slow cook, rapid cook and of course, air fry.

This multi-use machine boasts a 15-minute ‘Speedi Meal’ function. Think complete sophisticated meals, all prepared in one handy pot. The cooking pot is also removable for fuss-free cleaning, and it has an impressive 5.7L capacity.

But wait, there’s more. The Speedi also has an additional cook and crisp tray. This bonus tray has small adjustable legs that you balance inside the main pot, creating a second surface so you can cook your base ingredients (pasta, rice, grains) at the same time as your protein (chicken, meat, tofu) and vegetables. See, we said air fryers have come a long way.

How do you use the Ninja Speedi?

When it comes to setting your times and picking your program, there’s a sleek but straightforward interface on the front of the machine. Simply turn it on, pick your cooking function and hit start. To switch between the rapid cooker and the air fryer, all you have to do is flick the ‘SmartSwitch’ on top of the lid.

What can I cook in an air fryer?

Think air fryers are just for potatoes? Think again. The Ninja Speedi can be used to make everything from mafalde and meatballs to birthday cakes and BBQ favourites. You can air fry juicy burgers sans oil, steam corn on the cob and bake fresh focaccia. And did we mention you can do all of the above in less than an hour?

For more inspiration, check out Ninja’s extensive range of online recipes here. Air fried caramel doughnuts, anyone?

ninja speedi

Our Ninja Speedi review

The pros

It’s oh-so easy to set up

Getting the Speedi going is so easy. For full disclosure, I am in a long-term committed relationship with my oven, but when life gets hectic, I turn to my beloved mistress, the microwave. I am also generally a creature of habit (read: instruction manuals terrify me), so all in all, I was definitely an air fryer sceptic. And yet, the Speedi was up and running – and cooking my chicken! – in less than three minutes. No pre-heating required.

It’s highly intuitive and selecting your cooking programme and timer really is as simple as pressing a button. Top tip: Make sure to keep hold of the included manual and recipe book as it offers step-by-step advice and exact cooking times for everything from air-fried frozen chicken nuggets (10 minutes) to dehydrated apple (7 hours). It also tells you exactly how much water you need to add to the bottom of the pot if you want to ‘steam air fry’ meat, vegetables or grains.

So while my oven may be pretty foolproof to use, the Speedi's cooking tips and tricks definitely upped my cheffing game.

The results are quick and delicious

From a banger of a Sunday roast chicken to Thai style coconut rice with salmon, the Speedi not only cooks up a treat, it also does it in less time than my oven. Its ability to cook a fishcake in just eight minutes has reinvented my WFH lunchtimes and for the first time in my life, I am genuinely considering dehydrating mango to make healthy grab-and-go snacks.

My personal favourite setting was the ‘steam air fry’ (flick the upper switch to air fry and select ‘steam air fry’ on the panel). It’s a winning combo that led to the juiciest chicken wings with crispy skin. Also, entering random ingredients I find in my cupboard into the online 60-second recipe builder is my new favourite hobby.

It’s simple to clean

I would rather do anything (organise the dreaded ‘miscellaneous junk drawer’, deep clean my house rabbit’s litterbox, read all of War and Peace) than clean my oven, so I am obsessed with how easy it is to clean the Speedi.

Both the cooking pot and the cook and crisp tray are dishwasher-safe and came out spick and span after a short energy-saving cycle. If you don’t have a dishwasher, rest assured that any and all food residue came right off with a quick rinse and wipe down.

Take note: you can also steam clean your Speedi. Simply fill the pot with 700ml of water, select rapid cooker, and steam for 30 minutes. As the Speedi pot and cook and crisp tray cleaned up a treat in the dishwasher, I didn’t try the steam clean setting, but it’s good to know the option is there.

The delightfully crispy chips

Enough said. They laughed in the face of store-bought oven chips, and they cost me £1.65 to make. I followed the guidelines from the Speedi’s included recipe book and they were ready to eat in 25 minutes.

ninja speedi review

The cons

It's bulky

If you’ve ever felt personally victimised by your lack of kitchen counter space, know that the Speedi is 33cm wide, 31cm tall and 35cm(!) deep. Ergo it isn’t the smallest kitchen appliance. As a renter in London, the size of the Ninja proved to be a huge issue for me.

It also has a large, hinged lid that can’t be removed, so opening it beneath low kitchen cupboards can be awkward.

I opted to make room for the Speedi in one of our general storage cupboards and then transfer it to our kitchen counter when I needed to use it, but at 6.5kg, it isn’t the easiest thing to move from cupboard to countertop time and time again. In fact, it was quite a faff.

It may take you a few tries to get your timings right

The first time I used the Speedi, I massively underestimated how quickly it can cook raw meat. As someone who lives by the mantra, ‘safety never takes a holiday’, I refused to believe it could cook a chicken breast in less than 20 minutes. Turns out, it can. In fact, I would say that 15 – 17 minutes is the sweet spot for a perfectly moist chicken breast.

Much like getting to know a new oven, you’ll need to figure out the Speedi’s timings as you go. I found that food generally needed slightly less time than the Speedi manual suggested.

You need to buy tongs

Ninja recommends using strong silicone-tipped tongs to remove the cook and crispy tray with ease, and just as importantly, without burning yourself. I tried to cheat the system by using wooden tongs. Predictably, it didn’t go well. Don’t follow my lead. Buy the silicone-tipped tongs.

The verdict: Air fryer or oven?

The Speedi is delightfully quick and Ninja has gone to great lengths to ensure that setup, maintenance and cleaning are a doddle.

While it’s definitely a nice addition for eager home cooks, in a plot twist I didn’t see coming, the Speedi is ideal for those looking to abandon their microwave. It made me try new recipes and, despite my busy lifestyle, I felt like I could always find the time to commit to one of Ninja’s quick-fire recipes. I was always rewarded with a great, satisfying meal, and I can honestly say I will never go back to frozen oven chips.

And yes, its size may not be ideal for storage but having the perfect capacity for a meal for four makes it worth the faff.

All in all, the Speedi’s super speedy cooking capabilities really do make it ideal for those with busy lifestyles who still want to eat fresh. I’m excited to keep using it and adding more steamed, sautéed and slow-cooked dishes to my repertoire.

The Ninja Speedi isn’t as good as an oven – it’s arguably better when it comes to speed, energy efficiency and convenience.

All that said, I won't be ditching my oven anytime soon. Because of its larger capacity, it comes into its own when you want to spend the afternoon baking or throw a casual dinner party. But, I'll be giving mine a few extra nights off in future in favour of the Speedi. As for my microwave, its days are numbered.

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