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Ninja is at it again. They are always improving on their older models and we’re now seeing the fruits of their labor: the Ninja FG551 Foodi Smart XL Grill. Ninja was already making the most advanced indoor grills with the Ninja Foodi AG301 and the Ninja Foodi Pro AG400. How did they improve on these models? Better yet, is it worth the upgrade?
We’ll be looking at all three models and seeing how they compare. All three are great, that’s not the question here. The real question is which Ninja Foodi grill is the best? You’ll know by the end of this.
What is the Ninja Foodi Grill?
The Ninja Foodi Grill is an indoor grill that you can use to cook up burgers, dogs, chicken, vegetables, and more. It gives you that seared, blackened taste that everyone loves, but without having to grill outside. As you can expect from Ninja, each Foodi model has different appliances and programs, like doubling as an air fryer, dehydrator, and roasting pan.
Using any of the Ninja models, like the Ninja SmartXL grill or Foodi Pro, is simple. Just set the function, choose the temperature, and lift the lid to add your food. You can build a real char on the meat that tastes fantastic, or you can grill to your desired level of completion (there’s truly nothing better than a medium burger, am I right?).
These are ideal for cold weather days when grilling outdoors isn’t an option, if you don’t have a porch, or if you’d rather make grilling a part of your everyday cooking routine.
Ninja Smart XL vs Foodi Pro vs Foodi: Functions
I don’t know if Ninja is allowed to make products with a single function. Have you found any Ninja products that only do one thing? I haven’t, and I’ve reviewed a number of their products (insert 1-2 posts here).
That’s great for us though because it makes their products so much more useful. While the Ninja Foodi Grills prioritize the grill function, they do so much more than that. Let’s cover the main functions and then break down which model wins this part.
|Ninja Foodi Smart XL||Ninja Foodi Pro||Ninja Foodi|
When it comes to Ninja Foodi Smart XL Grill vs Foodi vs Foodi Pro, you can see that the Smart XL model is the winner in terms of functions. All three are close because they share many similar features. All of them grill, air fry, bake, dehydrate, and roast.
However, things change with broiling and the temperature probe. The standard Foodi grill doesn’t include either, making it the lowest here, but it’s also the least expensive. The Foodi Pro has a temperature probe, but still no broiling. If you love the crisp, developed flavor you can only get with broiling, then the Smart XL Grill is right for you. It also has a temperature probe for perfect cooking every time.
Foodi vs Foodi Pro vs Smart XL: Smart Programs
If we were talking about pressure cookers, then each product would have numerous Smart Programs that we could compare. However, the Ninja Foodi line is different. Only the Ninja Foodi Smart XL FG551 has these programs.
For those who don’t know, Smart Programs are presets that set the grill to the perfect time and temperature for a certain type of food. Once again, pressure cookers are known for this and can have over a dozen programs. We can’t compare Smart Programs, but we can talk about what the Smart XL grill offers and why it’s worth the upgrade.
There are two types of presets: protein and level of doneness. You can choose between four proteins: beef, chicken, fish, and pork. You can also choose between nine levels of doneness, like rare, medium-rare, medium, and so on. No more guessing, no more hoping that your food isn’t under or over cooked. It’s perfect and exactly the way you want it, no guesswork involved.
Setting this is easy. Push “Preset” and then use the arrow buttons to set the protein and doneness. Anyone can do this and it only takes seconds.
Now you might be wondering what happens if you cook another type of protein, vegetables, or if you simply want to manually grill. That’s fine, you can manually grill. The presets are only there to help, not to imprison you.
All three models are capable of manual grilling and cooking. The only difference is that the Smart XL is able to give you a little extra help. If you find yourself frustrated because your steaks are too red, your chicken is overcooked, and your burgers are dry, then these Smart Programs are exactly what you need.
Smart XL vs Foodi Pro vs Foodi: Capacity
As you might expect from an indoor grill, none of these are really large. You shouldn’t expect to cook a dozen or more burgers at once, but if you’re looking to feed a small family or hungry couple, then all of these indoor grills fit the bill.
That being said, what is the Ninja Foodi Grill capacity?
Both the Ninja Foodi and Ninja Foodi Pro are identical here. They have a 10” x 10” grill grate that can fit four burgers or chicken breasts. They also include a 4qt crisping basket for air frying and a 6qt cooking pan that can fit a 3lb roast. That’s pretty good for an indoor grill and you can enjoy lots of tasty food without grilling outside.
The Ninja Foodi Grill Smart XL is quite different. As the “XL” should tell you, this is a bigger grill that can cook six steaks simultaneously or 24 hotdogs at once. That’s quite the upgrade. You also get the 4qt crisping basket and a grill roast rack that is perfect for veggies. One very unique addition is the 2qt combo crisping basket. This is used with the grill rack and it allows you to simultaneously grill and air fry.
The Foodi and Foodi Pro are good, but the Ninja Smart XL Grill is obviously superior. You can cook more at once, and you can even fry and roast at the same time.
If you’re cooking for 1-3 people, then the Foodi Grill or Foodi Pro might be fine. If you’re cooking for more people, or just want the convenience of grilling and frying, then the Smart XL Ninja is your best bet.
Differences Between Smart XL, Foodi Pro, and Foodi
What are the differences between the Ninja Foodi Smart XL, Foodi Pro, and Foodi grill? When we compare the Ninja Foodi grill and the Foodi Pro, they are nearly the same. You’re getting the same features, same cooking methods, same amount of power, and same capacity. The only difference is the temperature probe. Honestly, the probe is great and makes the Foodi Pro a definite upgrade, but some might argue it’s not worth the extra cost.
There are many more differences when comparing the Foodi Smart XL Grill to the Foodi and Foodi Pro. The Smart XL has a temperature probe, multiple smart programs for different proteins, more capacity for a hungry family, and it can even broil. While the Foodi Pro is a relatively minor upgrade over the Foodi, the Smart XL Ninja is a tremendous leap over the other two grills.
Which Ninja Grill is Best?
Ninja Foodi Smart XL Grill
- Ninja Foodi Smart XL vs Foodi: more capacity, broiling, temperature probe, combo grill and air fry basket
- Ninja Foodi Smart XL vs Foodi Pro: more capacity, broiling, combo grill and air fry basket
Ninja Foodi Pro Grill
- Ninja Foodi Pro vs Foodi: nearly identical, but includes a temperature probe
- Ninja Foodi Pro vs Smart XL: more compact, better price, many of the same features
Ninja Foodi Grill
- Ninja Foodi vs Foodi Pro: lower price and nearly all the same features
- Ninja Foodi vs Smart XL: more compact, better for budget-conscious buyers
If you want the best Ninja indoor grill and don’t mind spending a little more, then the Smart XL is definitely the model for you. It’s the biggest, best, more advanced indoor grill on the market. However, if you’re a little more budget conscious and you want to save some money while still enjoying indoor grilled meats, then consider the Foodi or Foodi Pro.
Both are similar and nearly the same price, but the Foodi Pro’s temperature probe ensures you have consistently cooked food all the time. No more undercooking or overcooking. However, the Foodi’s lower price tag will also attract a lot of buyers.
So, which do you choose? While we loved the Smart XL the most here, all three are highly versatile indoor grills that can be used throughout the year.