Ninja Combi All-in-One Multicooker, Oven and Air Fryer review

A versatile multicooker that is handy for rustling up family meals, but not a replacement for your stove.

Ninja Combi Multicooker
(Image: © Future)

Tom's Guide Verdict

The Ninja Combi All-in-One Multicooker, Oven, and Air Fryer aces its main goal of turning out a lot of simple food for families with short prep and cook times. But it struggles at replacing other, more advanced devices — or even just your stove


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    Combi Meals feature ideal for cooking big, basic meals

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    Solid, easy-to-clean accessories

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    Superb documentation


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    Potentially steep usability curve affects most functions

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    Cleaning oven can be difficult

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Ninja Combi All-in-One Multicooker: Specs

Capacity: 5-pound roast
Dimensions: 14.92x15.43x13.11 in.
Weight: 20.2 lbs.
Settings: Combi Meals, Combi Crisp, Combi Bake, Steam, Proof, Rice/Pasta, Air Fry, Bake, Broil, Pizza, Toast, Sear/Sauté, Slow Cook, Sous Vide
Controls: Digital and manual
Smart features: None

The popularity of the multicooker (the generic term for Instant Pot–style do-it-all appliances) has led to an explosion of other products designed to speed up and simplify the process of cooking for a family. Although Ninja markets its new Combi as a multicooker, it’s closer to an air-fryer toaster oven, albeit with a design, interface, and selection of nonstick pans and trays even more aimed at helping you rapidly turn out a lot of food.

If that’s all you want from it, the Combi more than lives up to its promise with an attractive price, useful documentation, and no-nonsense accessories. It’s less successful at doing anything more complex. It's trickier to use and harder to clean than the best dedicated Instant Pots, air fryers, toaster ovens, or even just your good-old-fashioned cooktop.  But if cooking is not your forte, or you're after a convenient, "stop gap," then the Combi is ideal.

Ninja Combi Multicooker review: Pricing and availability

The Combi is available in two packages. The Ninja SFP12KT1 (and one we reviewed) is for $199 on Amazon, and gives you the oven, Combi Cooker Pan, Bake Tray, Crisper (aka air fryer) Tray, and Quick Start and Inspiration (aka recipe) Guides. 

The Ultimate Chef’s Package ( Ninja SFP12UPG1) for $229 on Amazon also adds a specially designed Dutch oven designed to fit the Combi, a glass lid for that pan, an 8-by-8-inch baking pan, a large ladle or pasta spoon, and a slotted spatula.

Ninja Combi Multicooker review: Design

Ninja Combi Multicooker (Image credit: Future)

Measuring about 15.4 x 14.9 x 13.1 inches, the Combi is similar in size to most larger toaster ovens, though you’ll need additional space on the left to accommodate its swing-open door. Inside, you’ll discover two heating elements corresponding to the only two rack positions: one on top with a convection fan for the Bake Tray and one on the bottom for the Combi Cooker Pan and the Crisper Tray.

The control panel on the door’s handle has clearly marked buttons for Power, the internal light, and starting and stopping the cooking, as well as the timing and temperature of the 14 individual cooking functions. These are divided into two columns on the display (Combi Cooker and Air Fry), which you switch between by flipping a dial on the oven’s top. The former group includes the three Combi options, which fuse more conventional cooking methods—Combi Meals (steaming and baking or broiling), Combi Crisp (steaming followed by air frying), and Combi Bake (steaming then baking)—as well as Steam, Proof, and Rice/Pasta. The second collection comprises Air Fry, Bake, Broil, Pizza, Toast, Sear/Sauté, Slow Cook, and Sous Vide.

(Image credit: Future)

Why the dial is needed to “activate” one set of functions is not made clear, but the excellent documentation ensures you don’t need to think about it too much. The 16-page Owner’s Guide fully describes every button and function, explains cleaning, and offers troubleshooting tips. 

What's more, the 72-page, full-color Inspiration Guide is filled with both traditional recipes and tables with times and temperatures for cooking dozens of kinds of food, in every way the Combi offers. A separate one-page Quick Start Guide further distills this information for Combi Meals, with an easy-to-follow but deceptively intricate matrix to help you combine starches, vegetables, and proteins into the perfect single-pan dinner.

Ninja Combi Multicooker review: Performance

After weeks of testing recipes from Ninja and other sources, we concluded that Combi Meals (which use the Combi Cooker Pan, alone or with the Bake Tray) are the best use of the Combi. A voluminous pasta bake (serving at least six really hungry people) with marinara sauce, sausage, and potatoes, needed only five minutes of prep and emerged thoroughly cooked and with the ideal consistency 15 minutes later. Another dinner consisting of a tray full of charred chicken thighs and mountains of moist, fluffy rice was just as satisfying, and really sold us on the unique virtues of the Combi. 

Unfortunately, not a lot else did. Combi Crisp made piles of highly credible French fries (though the air-fryer-only versions were dry and overdone), but the design of the Crisper Tray, with its centrally located recessed handle, made it to easy to break or mush fries while tossing or removing them and difficult to remove from the Cooker Pan. (The Crisper Tray was far better with bigger items, such as when steaming corn on the cob.) The shallowness of the Combi Cooker Pan was not ideal for cooking steak sous vide, and its depth and positioning in the oven aren’t ideal for use with Sauté/Sear. Slow cooker functionality was right on the edge: Meat loaf just barely cooked through—we’d recommend erring on the high side timing-wise, and keep one of the best meat thermometers handy.

Pay close attention with oven tasks, too. The “broiler” (the top fan) tends toward overheating and blows lighter stuff around. A pan full of toast came out monstrously uneven on both the Lite and Medium settings, and borderline burnt on the latter. Chocolate chip cookies cooked far quicker than their stated time and yet were still too dark (if not inedibly so). Ditto a simple chocolate cake: Baking one 8-inch layer at a time is slow to begin with, and using Combi Bake will further muck with your mix or recipe. (You might learn enough to ensure a better second cake.) A deep-dish pizza got completely cooked on top, but the crust remained undesirably soft and greasy.

Cleaning is a mixed bag, too. The three inserts can all go in the dishwasher, which is a huge plus, but the Combi’s interior must be cleaned by hand with a damp cloth, which the sheer number of nooks and crannies makes an irritation. You can break up baked-in grease or other matter by running the Steam cycle on the empty oven first, but then you’re warned to avoid the oven’s ceiling — good luck with that.

Ninja Combi Multicooker review: Verdict

Ninja Combi Multicooker (Image credit: Future)

Whether the Ninja Combi will reduce and improve the time you spend cooking depends exclusively on what and how much you make. If you have a big family with varying tastes, and you need to keep prep time down to five minutes or less, not even the Instant Pot will get you to dinner faster.

But although its functions do generally work, most will require the kind of experimentation (and thus failure) that devices like the Combi are ostensibly created to eliminate. And if you don’t know much about timing and temperatures to begin with, the conversions aren’t going to be things you’ll want to sink your teeth into.

For most people, a classic multicooker (whether an Instant Pot or competitor) or an air fryer is likely a better choice than the Ninja Combi, as they’re quicker and easier ways to cook a wider variety of foods. 

However, if you’re super pressed for space or patience due to a bevy of starving, complaining children and a frantic schedule, the Combi will get you where you need to be—but not a great deal further.

Matthew Murray

Matthew Murray is the head of testing for Future, coordinating and conducting product testing at Tom’s Guide and other Future publications. He has previously covered technology and performance arts for multiple publications, edited numerous books, and worked as a theatre critic for more than 16 years.