Product Reviews

A very meaty test of the Ninja Woodfire Electric BBQ Grill & Smoker

This one handy gadget can grill, smoke and air fry, as well as bake, roast dehydrate and reheat. We put it to the test.

Smoking, barbequing, grilling: no longer just cooking methods, these are now full-time hobbies for the truly dedicated. But traditional bulky appliances – gas barbecues and charcoal smokers – are not the most aesthetic ways of cooking meat outside. Fine for a large outdoor area, less fine for city apartment balconies or those on the move. 

Enter the Ninja Woodfire 7-in-Electric BBQ Grill & Smoker, which has launched in New Zealand, after selling out in the United States and United Kingdom. This electric gadget is basically a full outdoor kitchen in one: it can grill, smoke and air fry, as well as bake, roast dehydrate and reheat.

My partner and I put it through its paces over a week, and here are my honest thoughts. 

NZWW Food’s Ninja Woodfire review verdict

  • Our rating: A solid 8/10, would probably be a 9 from those who aren’t comparing it to a dedicated larger smoker 

Pros

  • Foolproof: very easy to set up and use 
  • Can set and forget, minimal attention required 
  • A full range of settings you don’t get with dedicated smokers and barbecues
  • Easily portable for camping, caravans or batches
  • No need for charcoal, or propane gas and no danger of flare-ups
  • Weather resistant 

Cons

  • Doesn’t get quite get the same flavour and smoke penetration as using a charcoal smoker
  • Electric so requires an accessible outdoor power socket 

What’s so special about the Ninja Woodfire?

Ninja Kitchen is taking over with its range of handy kitchen appliances – you’ve probably seen the ice cream maker and portable blender on your social media feeds. This multi-purpose outdoor grill is the brand’s first-ever outdoor product. It’s designed to easily feed a crowd and make the art of smoking (smoking meats, to be clear) easily accessible for the average punter. 

  • Can grill up to 6 steaks or 16 sausages, air fry up to 1.3kg of wings or smoke a 4kg whole brisket… and that’s only the beginning  
  • Woodfire technology: Powered by electricity, flavoured by real burning wood pellets to create rich woodfire flavour
  • Weather-resistant: Cook and store it outdoors year-round 
  • Smart Cook System: Precisely monitor your food’s temperature during cooking, with four smart protein settings and nine customisable doneness levels to avoid under or overcooking
  •  Balcony & apartment friendly using 1760-watt electric power

How to use the Ninja Woodfire

Step 1: Plug the temperature probe into the jack on the right side of the control panel. If adding woodfire flavour, open the provided bag of Ninja Woodfire Pellets. Using the pellet scoop, reach the scoop into the bag to fill the scoop to the top and pour pellets into the smoke box until filled to the top. Then, close the smoke box lid

Step 2: Select the cook function. Turn the unit on by rotating the dial clockwise from the OFF position to select GRILL, SMOKER, AIR FRY, BAKE, ROAST, or REHEAT. If you added pellets, press the WOODFIRE FLAVOUR TECHNOLOGY button. NOTE: Woodfire Flavour Technology is automatically enabled when using the Smoker function

Step 3: Program the smart probe, choosing the desired protein and doneness. Place into the protein 

Step 4:  Once the unit has preheated, “ADD FOOD” will appear on the screen (see what we mean about foolproof?).  Add the food with the probe grip fully inside the unit, and close the hood over the cord to begin cooking 

Step 5: Track progress using the ‘doneness’ display.  When using Roast and Grill, the unit will beep and display FLIP. Flipping is optional but recommended.

Step 7: Unit will beep and show “GET FOOD”, indicating it’s time to carry-over cook and rest food on a plate for 3–5 minutes. Carry-over cooking is when food retains heat and continues to cook after being removed from the source of heat

Results from the NZWW Food review

I roped my meat-cooking pro of a partner in for this review, as my abilities reside firmly more in a traditional indoor kitchen. Outdoor cooking is his domain. We used the Ninja Woodfire to cook both large and small: smoking a whole chicken and a massive beef short rib, as well as giving some steaks a solid grilling. 

I was looking forward to seeing how the Ninja Woodfire held up against our large charcoal smoker, which has the main flaw (in my opinion) of needing a lot of monitoring. Often it feels like my partner is crouched near it for hours, checking heat and smoke permeation other valuable things – laundry for instance – wait indoors. But no worries: the Ninja is a ‘set and forget’ type setup.

To smoke the chicken, we filled the pellet container with the milder ‘all-purpose blend’, placed the temperature probe in the chicken and set the desired internal temperature to the recommended 74°C. It started smoking almost immediately, permeating the meat with the delicious smoky flavour. A fully cooked chicken with crispy skin was ready to be enjoyed in bread rolls only an hour later. 

If you’d prefer to roast or air fry a chicken, that’s no problem: you can easily add smoke to anything. Just add pellets, select your desired cooking function, and press the ‘Woodfire Flavour Technology’ button. The machine will do the rest. 

The next night we enjoyed a similarly simple process when cooking a beef short rib. We tried cooking it without the internal probe, instead setting the time to four hours as recommended by the included recipe book. It was deliciously tender and fell off the bone. The ‘smoke ring’ was a little light according to the cook: the meat didn’t get quite the same smoke penetration as a traditional large charcoal smoker. But we’re nitpicking here. If you weren’t comparing, you wouldn’t notice anything lacking. 

Grilling steaks and mushrooms the following evening was as straightforward as using a traditional barbecue and the best part was the cleanup – no scraping away at carcinogens. Once the Ninja cooled, I just removed the hot plate and fat tray and washed both in hot soapy water. Easy.

We’re yet to use the dehydration setting but I’m looking forward to dehydrating fruit to top cocktails in the warmer months. 

Overall, is the Ninja Woodfire worth it?

Absolutely. When I say this gadget is foolproof, I mean it: the Woodfire gives you instructions including ‘ADD FOOD’, ‘REMOVE FOOD’ and ‘REST’, so you really can’t mess it up. 

Similar to how buying an air fryer halved the amount of time we use our regular kitchen oven, I can see this replacing the smoker and barbecue, during the summer months especially. We’ll also be taking it on the go this summer – who said camping needs to involve flavourless packets of dehydrated foods?  We’ll be cooking steaks beachside all summer, baby. 

Where can I buy the Ninja Woodfire?

The new Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill is priced at RRP $899.99 and available on ninjakitchen.co.nz and on Amazon Australia.

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