Ninja OL501 Review (2023) The Compact Steam Fryer

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Ninja OL501 Steam Fryer with Smart Lid, Silver/Black
Ninja OL501 Steam Fryer with Smart Lid, Silver/Black

Ninja OL501 Compact Steam Fryer is the cheapest among the brand’s line of pressure cookers with Smart Lid technology. This smart feature pertains to the unified air fryer and pressure cooker top. You can say goodbye to swapping lids between recipes.

The core functions of the Ninja Foodi OL501 are pressure cooking, steaming, and air frying. It’s a 14-in-1 multi-cooker, so you’ll definitely get more than those primary functions.

Cooking is all about controlling the intensity and duration of heat. The Compact Steam Fryers excels in that department giving you more options to prepare your food. I’ll save mentioning all those exciting capabilities in the next section.

For now, I have to tell you that this particular model doesn’t have an automatic pressure release feature and a built-in smart thermometer. You’ll only get those perks with the flagship Ninja Foodi Steam Fryer.

Now that we’ve got the bases covered let’s go over its pros and cons.


  • Cheaper
  • Modern and simple touchscreen design with a turn dial
  • Least expensive Ninja Steam Fryer
  • Compact profile
  • Faster cooking than the traditional methods
  • 14-in-1 cooking functions with smart customizable programs
  • All-in-one smart lid, no more lid swapping
  • SteamCrisp technology
  • 6.5-qt. cooking capacity
  • 4.6-qt. crisp basket
  • Easy to clean non-stick pot
  • Comes with a 45+ recipe book
  • Includes the reversible rack with 2 layers
  • PTFE and BPA-free
  • Dishwasher safe
  • 1-year warranty


  • No built-in thermometer
  • No auto pressure release feature
  • Can be loud
  • Cleaning the lid requires extra patience, but a lot easier than older models
  • The lid gets in the way sometimes

What can you make with Ninja 501 Steam Fryer?

Ninja OL501 is no different than its bigger siblings. It also offers 14 cooking functions as the Ninja OL601 and Ninja OL701.

The brand subdivided these cooking capabilities into three modes that you can activate using the huge slider above the touch screen panel.

Pressure Cook Mode

Pressure Cooked Meat

This feature is the primary function of the Ninja OL501. It can help you tenderize beef or pork in a much faster manner than boiling it over your stovetop for hours. With a pressure cooker, you’ll cut down your waiting time to just 15-30 minutes, depending on the portion of your meat.

If you love crafting recipes at home, having a pressure cooker is quite handy.

What can you cook: chicken breast, beef stroganoff, beef stew, curry, mac and cheese, chicken thighs, etc.

Steam Crisp Mode

This particular function allows you to use the steamer and air fryer function hand in hand. Ninja won’t call it a steam fryer without this mode.

Once you activate this cooking function, you’ll be able to use these preprogrammed settings.

steamed lava cake
Steam & Bake
Steam & Crisp
Steam & Crisp

It works like a Combi Oven in your favorite fast-food or sit-down restaurants. It’s a powerful type of oven that makes your dish juicy and, at the same time, gives it a crispy finish.

Air Fry/Stovetop Function

This mode is where are the other functions where consolidated. To be honest, I’m not sure why Ninja has a massive mode selector. Perhaps it has something to do with the machine’s lid locking mechanism.

Here are all the sub-cooking functions in the air fryer/stovetop mode.

Air Fry
slow cooked stew
Slow Cook
steamed vegetables
roasted chicken
vacuum sealed proteins for sous vide
Sous Vide
Seared Beef
dehydrated fruits
broiled beef
Warm Food
Keep Warm

Since most of it is pretty obvious, I’ll only highlight a few noteworthy features.

Apart from pressure cooking and steaming, air frying is the third core function of this 6-quart Steam Fryer. It’s a great alternative to traditional frying methods since you’re using less oil. If you’re trying to cut down on cholesterol, air frying is one way of achieving that goal.

What I’m excited about is Ninja OL501’s sous vide function. You’ll only see this feature with high-end pressure cookers. Most 5-Star restaurants use this advanced cooking technique to cook their steaks to perfection.

Another remarkable feature is the proofing function. Though the cooking real estate is not as big as a full-sized oven, it can handle large bread and medium-sized cakes.

Is the Ninja Foodi 6-Quart Steam Fryer easy to use?

The pressure cooking function is already intimidating. At first, I was concerned that it might explode on me. After doing some research, I’m quite relieved that manufacturers have more than ten safety features to keep that from happening.

My point is using any pressure cooker like the Ninja Foodi 501 or any multi-cooker, for that matter, is pretty challenging. So be prepared to invest some time in mastering your brand new kitchen appliance.

Ninja Foodi OL501 Control Panel
Ninja Foodi OL501 Control Panel

There’s a moderate learning curve, but as soon as you’ve tried every possible recipe with your multi-cooker, you’ll surely get the hang of it.

Now, let’s get to the positive side.

The user interface of the 6-quart Ninja Foodi Steam Fryer was thoughtfully crafted. It’s very straightforward. I’m used to Instant Pot‘s touch screen interface, but seeing Ninja OL501’s control panel for the first time feels like I can use it without even looking at the manual.

I have to warn you though, that this model doesn’t have an automatic pressure release, unlike the flagship Ninja Foodi Steam Fryer. If you’re using any of the pressurized cooking functions, you still have to seal it by turning the pressure release valve manually.

That’s one thing that I don’t like about the compact Steam Fryer, plus it doesn’t have an integrated meat thermometer.

To be frank, those are major deal breakers for me. That’s why I recommend the Ninja Foodi OL701 more than the Ninja Foodi OL601 or this particular variant.

Let’s briefly touch on the unified air fryer and pressure lid.

Using the Smart Lid

The Ninja Steam Fryer Family’s ultimate selling point is the Smart Lid. In my opinion, there’s nothing clever about it. It’s more like an added convenience.

Instead of switching between an air fryer lid and pressure cooker top, you just have one singular lid to deal with. That’s not something you could do with an Instant Pot, at least for now.

Here’s how to use it.

The only issue is it’s connected to the base unit and washing it is a little tedious.

Speaking of maintenance, that’s our next topic.

How to clean Ninja Foodi OL501?

For safety reasons, let the heating element cool down before cleaning the cooking base and the smart lid. In the meantime, you can safely take the pot and accessories off by using oven mitts.

Ninja Foodi OL501 dishwasher safe

The good thing is, the cooking pot, racks, cook and crisp basket, and diffuser are all dishwasher safe. Depending on the dish you made, you may need to give these parts some good soaking and scrubbing before running them in your dishwashing machine.

Once the Smart Lid is safe to touch, you can remove the silicone ring, pressure release valve, and anti-clog cap and wash it with water and dish soap. The silicone ring is also dishwasher safe, but manual handwashing is the most efficient way to get rid of nasty greases.

Then, you can wipe off the base, top of the lid, the heating element, and inner components with a kitchen towel or a damp cloth. The brand doesn’t recommend cleaning the fan. Perhaps, damaging it would mean voiding your warranty coverage.

Pro Tip: Use soft sponges when cleaning nonstick accessories to prevent damaging it.

See Ninja OL501 in Action

Sadly, I couldn’t find any product demo video of the compact Ninja Steam Fryer. It looks similar to the product below, the OL501 is just a little smaller.

Ninja OL501 Steam Fryer is a multi-functional pressure cooker with a 6.5-quart cooking capacity. It can also help you slow cook, air fry, steam, bake, sous vide, make yogurt, sear, sauté, broil, dehydrate, and proof your dough. Its smart lid feature makes it one of the best pressure cookers that double as an air fryer.

What accessories can I get with the Compact 6.5 Quart Ninja Foodi Steam Cooker?

Fun fact: Prior Foodi pressure cooker accessories might fit with the Ninja OL501. Therefore, if you’re upgrading, there’s no need to buy new accessories.

Otherwise, I highly recommend these two:

ninja foodi steam cooker accessories
Deluxe Bake Kit on the left, Dehydrator Stand on the right
  • Dehydrator stand — Since dehydrating food takes a significant amount of time, it’s ideal for processing several foods in one go. With the dehydrator stand, you can make 250% more than the reversible rack the Ninja Steam Fryer comes with.
  • Deluxe bake kit — According to Ninja, “Any accessory that you currently use in your oven is also safe to use in your Foodi.” If none, on the other hand, I suggest getting a Foodi specific bake kit to utilize the space better.

These set of accessories will work with the Ninja Foodi OL701, Ninja Foodi OL601 and the Ninja OL501.

*Product Images and Video Courtesy of Shark Ninja

Technical Specifications

TypePressure Cooker / Air Fryer / Multi-Cooker / Slow Cooker/ Steamer
Brand/SeriesNinja Air Fryer | Ninja Pressure CookerThe Ninja Foodi Collection
Model #Ninja OL501
Rating4.5 out of 5
Wattage1460 watts
Functions14-in-1: Pressure Cook, Slow Cook, Air Fry, Steam & Crisp, Steam & Bake, Steam, Sous Vide, Yogurt, Sear/Sauté, Bake/Roast, Broil, Dehydrate, Keep Warm, Proof
PotNon-stick ceramic coated
Capacity6.5 quarts cooking pot, 4.6 quarts crisp basket
Dishwasher safeYes
ColorStainless Steel/Black
Dimensions (LxWxH)15.39 x 14.21 x 13.07 inches (39.1 x 36 x 33.2 cm)
Cord Length2.7 ft. (81 cm)
ApplicationPersonal Use
Warranty1 Year
Related ProductsNinja Foodi OL701, Ninja OL601, Ninja Foodi Deluxe, Ninja Foodi Pro Pressure Cooker, Ninja Foodi 7-in-1 Pressure Cooker
This table shows the technical specifications of Ninja Foodi OL501.

Is the Ninja OL501 worth it?

The Ninja OL501 Compact Steam Fryer is definitely a good option than the brand’s previous pressure cookers. However, I would still recommend the Ninja OL701 because of two convenient features—hands-free pressure release and an integrated meat thermometer.

You might also want to check the 5-Quart Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker, it’s even more compact than the OL501.

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