CNET First Look
This all-in-one cooking system is great if you really plan to dive into all its featuresNinja's countertop cooker packs in more than what you might be used to in a slow cooker.
Hey. I'm CNET's Ry Crist, and this is the three-in-one Ninja Cooking System. Now, why is it three-in-one? It's three-in-one because it works as a slow cooker, but also as an oven and as a stove top-type cooker. So, what that means is you'll switch this knob over here for slow cooking, and then you'll switch it back over here to a stove top, or all the way over here for oven mode. On oven mode, you can set it anywhere from 250 to 425 degrees. And at slow cooking, you can set it anywhere from 30 minutes up to 12 hours. Now, that's a lot of versatility for a countertop slow cooker. Usually, you just pour your ingredients in, set it to low or high, and then walk away for eight hours and come back to a home cooked meal. Now, with this, you can do a lot more. You can bake cookies, you can sautÃ© vegetables, you can steam-bake and steam-roast meats, and all that in addition to the basic slow cooking functions. Now, one important thing to note about the Ninja is that it has a metal pan as opposed to a ceramic crock that we've seen in a lot of other machines. So, if I take the lid off and take this pan out for you, you can see that it's this aluminum non-stick material. It's pretty easy to keep clean, dishwasher-safe. That's nice. But it's so thin. And that means that it conducts heat pretty well, it cooks fast, but it doesn't retain heat that well. That means when you're travelling, if you're throwing this thing in the back seat and driving across town to a party, if you get stuck in traffic, this one's gonna lose a lot more heat and you're foods gonna be a lot colder than it would be in another machine. So, if you're gonna travel a lot, maybe consider something else. If you're looking for a countertop slow cooker that can do other things as well, and add some functionality to your cooking repertoire, the Ninja's pretty good device. It costs $199, and that's pretty expensive for a slow cooker. You can get it a lot less than that at Walmart, or Target, or retail outlets like that. But still, it's a bit of an upgrade for a mere standard $25, $35 machine. I think it's worth it if you're gonna use all those extra features. If you're gonna bake with it, if you're gonna replace your oven, replace your stove top, sure. That's a good investment. But if you're just looking for a classic slow cooker that's gonna make meatballs and barbecue for your next big game day party, I say go with a cheaper machine. For CNET, I'm Ry Crist.