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The Ninja Foodi Smart XL Grill, or simply the Ninja FG551, has excellent upgrades from the original Ninja Foodi 5-in-1 Grill.
For instance, it now has a built-in thermometer, bigger cooking capacity, and an additional broil function—thus, making it a 6-in-1 multicooker.
Judging from its new looks, it’s more minimalist and refined than the previous model. And I would guess that it’s been optimized for indoor grilling. The grill crate can now handle six steaks instead of four.
Award: 3rd Best Ninja Grill
Having a meat thermometer will surely come in handy during steak nights. Whether you like yours rare, medium rare, medium, medium-well, or well done, that small but mighty tool got your back.
The smart feature alone is a good enough reason to upgrade to this indoor grill. However, it’s a little bit pricier than its more compact sibling.
If you want to learn more about the Ninja Foodi FG551 6-in-1 Smart XL Grill, the next order of business is to go over its pros and cons.
- Contemporary touchscreen aesthetics
- Inutuitive controls
- 6-in-1 appliance
- Smart thermometer with storage
- Customizable doneness (no more guesswork)
- 4 smart protein cooking settings
- Even cooking
- Can reach up to 510ºF (265ºC)
- It can cook 6 steaks simultaneously
- Smokeless grill
- It comes with a recipe book
- Temperature control and indicator
- Programmable timer
- Non-stick ceramic coating
- The handles don’t get hot
- Dishwasher safe
- 1-year warranty
- Excellent indoor grill for a premium price
- A significant countertop footprint
- Indirect heating
- Whole chicken won’t fit (you’d have to prep it first)
- No auto-warm function
- Grill marks are not the traditional stripes
- Only a one-layered dehydrator
How does the Ninja Foodi Smart XL Grill Perform?
Just like the previous Ninja 5-in-1 Grill, it produces delicious char-grilled results for your barbecue, steaks, chicken, etc. Plus, it won’t create a crazy amount of smoke, so your fire alarm won’t inconveniently go off.
It has a 10-minute preheat time—a bit faster than a charcoal grill. In that time, you can prepare your food which should be more than enough for some recipes.
Here’s the thing:
Ninja claims that you can cook 50% more than the original (10×10 inches) based on the steaks you can fit. You see, given that the grill area of the new Ninja XL Grill is 9×12 inches, it’s technically only 8% larger (excluding depth).
But wait, let me tell you something:
Since the orientation is now a rectangle, some food will be easier to fit than the older model. So, it’s still accurate to say that you can definitely cook more food simultaneously.
To put it into perspective, you’ll be able to cook 5-6 steaks at a time. Or, you can also cook the main and side dishes all together—which is a significant time-saver.
The Ninja Smart XL Grill features a shallower depth which is crucial for grilling. Think about it; it’ll be a lot easier to flip (or get) your burgers compared to that of a deep pot.
Moreover, it cooks food evenly thanks to its cyclonic grilling technology. So, even if you forget to thaw your food, you can still directly cook it on the grill with no problem.
Here’s the best one yet:
The Ninja Foodi FG551 Smart Thermometer
Your grill will include this terrific smart thermometer. You can insert this into your food to read the temperature and show it to you in real-time. Plus, it features two sensors which will give you a more accurate reading than the traditional one.
Essentially, thanks to this thermometer, you can predetermine the doneness you want—rare, medium rare, medium, medium well, and well-done. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced cook, this is a fantastic feature for achieving that perfect doneness.
The Ninja Smart XL Grill will prevent overcooking. Mainly, the machine will tell you to “GET FOOD” just before it reaches the doneness you selected. By then, transfer your food onto a plate and rest (you can remove the thermometer).
Once your food is resting, it will still cook for approximately 5 minutes—this is called carry-over cooking. Knowing that Ninja considered this factor, they certainly deserve a thumbs up.
Furthermore, having this smart thermometer is a tremendous help when multitasking in the kitchen. It’s like a walkaway feature as you can do other stuff without worrying about overcooking.
By the way, there is a mini-guide on the hood regarding the correct way of inserting the thermometer.
What can you cook with the Ninja Smart XL Grill?
There’s a lot you can make with the Ninja Smart XL Indoor Grill. If you want to see the types of recipes you can cook with a Ninja Foodi Grill, check out our roundup of several killer Ninja Foodi Grill recipes.
Here are just a few of the types of foods you can cook:
As I have mentioned earlier, these are just a handful of the endless possibilities. Better yet? It has five more cooking functions to explore—bake, broil, roast, dehydrate, and best of all, air fry.
Unless you don’t have an oven range, the bake, roast, and broil modes aren’t that impressive. Instead, we’ll discuss the dehydrate and air crisp functions.
If you dehydrate occasionally, the 6-in-1 Ninja Foodi Smart XL Grill could replace the traditional dehydrator. The quality isn’t that far from each other, and more importantly, it will save you a ton of space in the kitchen.
Here’s the kicker:
The same space-saving idea applies to the next function—air frying. Other than grilling, this is the most remarkable function of the Ninja Foodi FG551. For context, this will be a lot cheaper and more straightforward than a deep fryer.
So, if you have a standalone air fryer (or even a deep fryer), you might want to consider this product for an upgrade. It’s a multifunctional appliance, so you can never go wrong with this Foodi.
Here’s the catch:
The heat comes from the top, which means it mainly cooks through convection (air fry) instead of direct heat. In short, searing isn’t its best quality.
Thus, for a more genuine indoor grill, you should consider the more recent Ninja Foodi IG651.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s indeed a fantastic appliance and it cooks well. But for the main grilling functionality, the Ninja IG651 bested the Ninja FG551.
Is the Ninja Foodi Smart XL 6-in-1 Grill easy to use?
Assembly is just as straightforward as the original one. Simply align the indents of the unit, cooking pot, and grill grate or crisp basket. It should fit into place effortlessly.
On a different note, the control panel has the most improvement—it’s now a sleek touchscreen. Consequently, the Ninja Smart XL Grill has numerous buttons, so it might take some time to get used to. Luckily, if you look at the big picture it’s actually more accessible than manual cooking.
At the press of a button(s), you can just sit back and relax while waiting for your food to grill. This is possible thanks to the four smart settings—beef, poultry, pork, and seafood. Plus, with the smart thermometer, guesswork will be a thing of the past.
If you have a hectic schedule, you’ll benefit from these presets the most.
Essentially, just select your protein setting, your desired doneness, insert the thermometer, close the lid, and let the grill do the rest of the work.
Even if you don’t use the thermometer, you can still set a timer and adjust the temperature to achieve that excellent consistency.
While it’s not recommended, you can skip the preheat mode by pressing the preheat button on the lower left. This is ideal if it’s your second batch and the unit is unnecessarily preheating again.
As a side note, there’s a cute little magnetic storage for the smart thermometer on the side. By having so, losing it will never be an issue.
*Check out the video below for a demo on how to use the Ninja Foodi Smart XL Grill.
See the Ninja Foodi Smart XL Indoor Grill in Action
Don’t take my word for it, watch this quick video demo of the Ninja FG551 from the brand.
The Ninja Foodi Smart XL Grill is an upgraded 6-in-1 kitchen appliance. It highlights an 8% more surface area that fits more food. Also, the Ninja Smart Grill includes a smart thermometer with 2 sensors to accurately achieve that ideal doneness every time. On top of all that, it features 4 automatic settings, which makes cooking so much easier.
Is the Ninja Smart XL Grill easy to clean?
Before anything else, make sure to only use silicone or plastic tongs/spatula. Just like your non-stick pan, this prevents any scratches on the ceramic coating.
Here’s one more tip:
If you’re going to cook a marinated protein, line your cooking pot with aluminum foil for a more swift cleanup later on.
Compared to a charcoal grill, cleaning this Ninja Foodi XL Grill is easy-peasy. It’s technically dishwasher safe, yet I don’t recommend it. The ceramic coating can get chipped easily, so preferably, you should wash it by hand.
Not to worry, it’s still going to be a straightforward cleanup.
First, soak the cooking pot, splatter shield, grill, and crisper basket in warm soapy water for an hour or two. If it’s easy to clean, you can skip this part. When it’s the other way around, you can also soak it overnight.
By the way, don’t immerse the whole thermometer underwater—only the probe part.
Use a soapy sponge (or the included brush) to gently scrub off any residue, which should come off quickly. Don’t use the scouring pad of the Scotch-Brite as it can damage the coating.
Rinse off the parts with running water and finally, dry completely before storing. As for the unit, simply wipe it off with a damp cloth.
*Product Images and Video Courtesy of Shark Ninja
|Brand/Series||Ninja Indoor Grill / Ninja Air Fryer → The Ninja Foodi Collection|
|Rating||4.4 out of 5|
|Cooking Functions||6-in-1: grill, air crisp, bake, roast, broil, dehydrate|
|Size/Cooking Capacity||9×12 inches grill grate (6 steaks at once), 4-qt crisper basket, 4-qt cooking pot|
|Dimensions (WxDxH)||15.7 x 16.54 x 11.05 inches (39.88 x 42.01 x 28.1 cm)|
|Cord Length||3 ft. (91.4 cm)|
|Related Products||Ninja Foodi Pro Grill, Ninja Foodi XL Pro Grill, Ninja AG301|
Is the Ninja Foodi Smart XL Grill worth it?
If you’re looking for an all-year-round indoor grill AND air fryer, you should totally consider the Ninja Foodi FG551 Smart XL Smokeless Indoor Grill and Air Fryer. For a jack of all trades kitchen appliance, it is certainly worth the splurge.
On the other hand, if you want a more recent indoor grill, go check out the Ninja Foodi Pro Grill and Griddle.
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