Ninja Foodi Smart XL Grill Review (NINJA FG551) 6-in-1 Indoor grill

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Key Points

  • The Ninja Foodi Smart XL Grill is very similar to its smaller predecessor and is a 6-in-1 air fryer and indoor grill with a reversible grill plate for both flat and grate grilling.
  • The Ninja Foodi Smart XL Grill is very similar to its smaller predecessor and is a 6-in-1 air fryer and indoor grill with a reversible grill plate for both flat and grate grilling.
  • If you’re looking for a better indoor grill that can be used as a griddle, check out the Ninja Foodi Pro Grill and Griddle instead.

Budget Indoor Grill
Ninja Foodi Smart XL 6-in-1 Indoor Grill

The older workhorse of the Smart XL line by Ninja. If you like the DG551 unit but are trying to save some money, you should consider this one. It has the same features as the DG551 but is a bit heavier and with a dated design.

This Ninja Foodi Grill can Grill, Air Crisp, Roast, Bake, Broil and Dehydrate. Like all Ninja Foodi Grills, it comes with a chef-created recipe guide to get your started.

Model #: FG551
Ninja Grill Rating:
  • "Smart Cook" enabled with smart thermometer
  • 4 protein settings & 9 customizable doneness levels
  • Same features as the DG551 but less expensive
  • Dishwasher safe parts
  • Unit only cooks when the lid is closed
  • No griddle plate included/Not designed for griddle functionality
  • Indirect heating only
Smart Cook System: Yes
Functions: Grill, Air Crisp, Roast, Bake, Broil and Dehydrate
Grill Grate Size: 9 in x 12 in
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02/18/2024 03:41 pm GMT

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 it’s been optimized for indoor grilling for the whole family, with the grill grate now handling six steaks instead of four.


First, let’s explore the 6 cooking presets that come with this upgraded indoor grill!

6 Preset Cooking Features

  1. Grill

2. Air Crisp

3. Roast

4. Bake

5. Broil

6. Dehydrate

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.

Before we go further into the features of the Ninja Foodi FG551 XL Smart Grill, here are the main differences between the Ninja Foodi 6-in-1 Smart XL Grill and the original 5-in-1 grill.

Ninja Foodi FG551Ninja Foodi AG301
Longer grill surface accommodates more pieces of meat while grillingTaller height better for grilling sandwiches without burning the top
Smart appliance with smart meat thermometer to prevent overcooking while multitaskingNo smart features, but the taller design removes the need to flip
Bake function not as useful with the slimmer designDoesn’t have the broil feature, which is handy for browning for perfectly aesthetic steaks
6-in-1 vs the original 5-in-1 model

In addition, while the air fryer basket is the same depth as the 5-in-1 Foodi XL Grill, the grill itself is not. This means the food toward the top of the basket might cook differently. I found shaking the basket midway through cooking is ideal when using the air crisp function.

To kick off the list of features of the Ninja Foodi FG551 Smart XL Grill, here’s the best feature 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.

ninja FG551 smart thermometer

Dial In Your Doneness

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.

Connect Thermometer with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa

I love that this smart grill and the accompanying smart thermometer connect with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and my smartphone. It prevents overcooking because the machine will tell you to “GET FOOD” just before it reaches the doneness you selected. 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—carry-over cooking. Knowing that Ninja considered this factor, they certainly deserve a thumbs up. If you’re a grilling chef like me, you know the importance of those final minutes on low heat.

smart thermometer

Helps with Multitasking

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.

Never Lose The Thermometer

As a side note, there’s a cute little magnetic storage for the smart thermometer. This is great for someone like me that is constantly losing small accessories to countertop appliances. No more digging around in drawers for 10 minutes to find what you need to get started!

Many air fryer toaster ovens have digital thermometer probes but they don’t all connect with Alexa or Google.

By the way, there is a mini-guide on the hood regarding the correct way of inserting the thermometer.

Flat and Textured Grill Surfaces

The heating element of the air fryer grill.

The ceramic-coated grill plate is nonstick and reversible, offering flat and textured grilling. The flat grill is excellent for cheeseburgers, but I want to warn you that you can’t use it as a griddle. Since the heating element is in the top, like most air fryers, the flat grill won’t stay hot enough to use as a griddle with the lid open.

If you’re looking for an indoor grill that can be used as a griddle, check out the Ninja Foodi Pro Grill and Griddle instead.

Protein Presets Perfect for Complex Recipes

The protein presets on the Ninja Foodi XL Grill are perfect for grilling meat before adding to complex recipes. You can set the grill to bring your meat to a specific core temperature, allowing you to remove it and add to other ingredients before it is fully cooked. This is important when you want to marry the flavors of a dish but want to shave off cooking time by getting your meat mostly cooked before adding it to the recipe.

The air fryer features also mean that you can bring your meat to a core temperature just before done so that you can use the broil feature and give fish or other recipes a fine crust without overcooking the meat in the process.

Smoke Control Design

The entire design of the Ninja Foodi FG551 XL Indoor Grill and Air Fryer is engineered to keep smoke out of your kitchen. The temperature-controlled grill grate, splatter shield, and cool air zone work together to reduce smoke when combined with chef-recommended grilling practices.

I highly suggest reading the short cookbook that comes with the Ninja Foodi XL Grill before using the product so you can familiarize yourself with the best way to grill with this appliance. It is somewhat different than grilling on an outdoor grill or using a more traditional air fryer with grill features.

Technical Specifications

TypeIndoor Grill
Brand/SeriesNinja Indoor Grill / Ninja Air Fryer → The Ninja Foodi Collection
Model #FG551
Rating4.0 out of 5
Cooking Functions6-in-1: grill, air crisp, bake, roast, broil, dehydrate
Size/Cooking Capacity9×12 inches grill grate (6 steaks at once), 4-qt crisper basket, 4-qt cooking pot
Dishwasher safeYes
BPA FreeYes
Dimensions (WxDxH)15.7 x 16.54 x 11.05 inches (39.88 x 42.01 x 28.1 cm)
Cord Length3 ft. (91.4 cm)
ApplicationPersonal Use
Warranty1 Year
Related ProductsNinja Foodi Pro Grill, Ninja Foodi XL Pro Grill, Ninja AG301
This table shows the technical specifications of Ninja Foodi FG551.

What’s in the box:

  • 9×12 grill grate
  • 4-quart crisper basket
  • 4-quart cooking pot
  • Cleaning brush

If you want to learn more about the Ninja Foodi FG551 6-in-1 Smart XL Grill, here are some additional pros and cons.

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:

grilled burgers
barbecue kebab
grilled cheese sandwich
Grilled Cheese
grilled chicken breast
Grilled Chicken
grilled lamb chops
Lamb Chops
grilled pork
Grilled Pork
grilled steak
Grilld Steak
grilled salmon
Grilled Vegetables
Grilled Veggies

As I have mentioned earlier, these are just a handful of endless possibilities. Better yet? It has five more cooking functions to explore—bake, broil, roast, dehydrate, and best of all, air fry. I can do almost anything on this grill I can cook in a shallow pan on my in my oven, and the air fryer works as you would expect.

Bake, Roast, & Broil Functions Not Very Impressive

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.

Great Dehydrate Feature

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.

Acceptable Air Frying

air fryer

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. Like other air fryers, it also uses less oil, which I especially appreciate when dieting.

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 frying) instead of direct heat. In short, searing isn’t its best quality.

IG651 Beats This Device With Grilling

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.

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. This is thanks to the patented Smoke Control System, which I can vouch for as reducing smoke significantly.

ninja foodi smart xl grill with steak

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. It also grills directly at 500 degrees, whereas a charcoal grill cooks with radiant heat at about 700 degrees.

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.

Here’s more:

The Ninja Smart XL Grill features a shallower depth crucial for grilling. Think about it; it’ll be much easier to flip (or get) your burgers than 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. I can take most foods from frozen to char-grilled in just 25 minutes.

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.

Improved Controls

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.

ninja smart xl grill control panel

Great Walkaway Smart Cook Settings

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, and your desired doneness, insert the thermometer, close the lid, and let the grill do the rest of the work. The smart features will tell you when its done.

Even if you don’t use the thermometer, you can still set a timer and adjust the temperature to achieve that excellent consistency.

Here’s more:

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.

*Check out the video below for a demo of how to use the Ninja Foodi Smart XL Grill.

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. If you have to clean the interior, do so with a soft sponge and hot water.

Here’s one more tip:

If you cook a marinated protein, line your cooking pot with aluminum foil for a more swift cleanup later. It’s best not to use harsh soaps or scrubbers on the nonstick surface; the aluminum foil will help your Ninja Foodi Smart XL Grill last longer.

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. You can also soak it overnight when it’s the other way around.

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, wipe it off with a damp cloth.

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.

*Product Images and Video Courtesy of Shark Ninja

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.


How long does it take to cook a steak and fries for one person in the Ninja Foodi Smart XL Grill?

It takes me about a half hour to make a steak dinner for one. I usually start with grilling the meat using the smart thermometer, then switch to the air fry basket to cook fries. Alternatively, you could grill veggies right alongside your steak just like you would on your outdoor grill.

Can you store all of the accessories with the Ninja Foodi Smart XL Grill?

While there is a magnetic holder for the smart meat thermometer and the grill plate can remain, the rest of your accessories will need to be stored elsewhere. Be ready to give up some cabinet space for the air fry basket and other accessories.

How much meat can you fit on the Ninja Foodi Smart XL Grill?

I can fit 4 New York Strip steaks, 4 filets, or 6 boneless chicken breasts on the grill at one time. If you’re cooking for 4-6 people, you should be able to cook all of the meat for the family at once.

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