Ninja Foodi FlexDrawer Air Fryer review

With plenty of flexible cooking options, Ninja’s new FlexDrawer air fryer is a brilliant large-capacity air fryer

New Ninja air fryer - the Ninja Foodi FlexDrawer Air Fryer 10.4L AF500UK
(Image credit: Ninja)
Ideal Home Verdict

The Ninja FlexDrawer is a fantastic bit of kit that manages to combine a huge capacity with the flexibility to split it into two zones. I’ve got no complaints about its performance and I think it's worth every penny of its premium price tag. It’s the Ideal air fryer for large, busy households.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Spacious capacity

  • +

    No need to preheat

  • +

    Dual zone or single zone

  • +

    Very intuitive to use

  • +

    Can simultaneously cook in a different mode and temperature on each side

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Can’t open each side individually

  • -

    Quite dominant on worktop

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Unless you’re living under a rock, it’s becoming harder and harder to ignore the popularity of air fryers. Even the biggest sceptics are coming round to the joys of fast cook times and super crisp results. In fact, I speak to so many people these days who rarely bother to use their big oven any more.

There are so many different sizes and styles of air fryer on offer now and there’s something to suit everyone. But to me, dual zone air fryers can at times feel like a compromise, because while they have the flexibility of being able to cook two things at once, they often comprise of two quite small cooking zones, which can feel limiting when you want to cook larger foods.

So when I heard about this new FlexDrawer air fryer from Ninja, which not only has a large capacity, but can be used as either a single or dual zone air fryer, I was excited to try it out. The promotional blurb talks about there being enough space to fit and roast a 2kg leg of lamb. And since I’m a woman of the people, I had to give it a go so I could let you know if it’s true. Here’s how I got on.

Ninja Foodi FlexDrawer Air Fryer specs

Ninja FlexDrawer air fryer cutout

(Image credit: John Lewis)
  • Capacity: 10.4 litres or 2 x 5.2 litres
  • Modes: Max crisp, air fry, roast, bake, reheat, dehydrate, prove
  • Weight: 9.4kg
  • Power: 2470W
  • Dishwasher safe: yes
  • Size: 32.7 x 49.6 x 31.6cm (h x w x d)

Who reviewed the Ninja Foodi FlexDrawer Air Fryer?

Image of Helen McCue, Freelance Contirbutor
Helen McCue

After completing a Home Economics degree, Helen went on to work for the Good Housekeeping Institute and has been reviewing home appliances ever since. She lives in a small village in Buckinghamshire in the UK, where she reviews all sorts of home and garden appliances using her wealth of experience. 

Helen used this Ninja air fryer for a couple of weeks in place of her usual Ninja air fryer (the Ninja AF100UK) which she is quite fond of. It felt a bit too large for the needs of her two person household, but she enjoyed using the dual zone functions and the flexibility you get with this air fryer.

Unboxing, setting up and first impressions

As is the case with most Ninja appliances virtually all the packaging inside the box was paper or cardboard and very easy to recycle. When I put this air fryer on my worktop, my immediate first impression was that it was a hefty appliance. It’s not super deep, so it can be pushed to the back of the worktop, but it’s tall and wide.

There’s no setup or assembly, other than slotting the perforated crisper trays and the divider into place. What’s more, it’s intuitive to use from the get-go. If you want to use it as one big cooking zone, you simply have to press ‘megazone’ and then turn the dial to one of the cooking modes. The time and temperature are adjusted via arrows at either side of the screen.

Alternatively, you can insert the central divider and treat each side as a separate cooking zone. Each side is programmed by pressing the corresponding zone button. And you can set them individually to cook at completely different temperatures and different modes. A simple sync button means that no matter what the difference in cook times, the air fryer will delay the side with the shortest cook time, so that they both finish simultaneously.

The Ninja FlexDrawer air fryer during testing unboxed

(Image credit: Future/Helen McCue)

The most noticeable difference between this and other dual zone air fryers like the ever popular Ninja AF400UK, is that instead of two drawers, there’s just one with a removable divider. So this does mean that when you want to open one side to check or shake the contents, there’s no way to do it without opening both sides. And while at times this might be a minor frustration, the payoff comes when you want to make use of the ginormous 10.4 litre drawer to cook big foods or portions. 

I’ve reviewed a lot of air fryers and I think this drawer, when the divider is removed, is the largest single zone I’ve seen to date. So there’s a lot of scope to cook things that might not otherwise fit in a regular size air fryer. 

Testing the Ninja FlexDrawer air fryer at home

(Image credit: Future/Helen McCue)

It’s so immediately obvious how to operate the controls that there’s not really much need to read the manual cover-to-cover. However it’s worth noting that the quick start guide, with its recipes and cooking charts is worth keeping to hand for suggested cooking times and temperatures.

What is the Ninja Foodi FlexDrawer like to use?

Having only briefly browsed the instruction manual, I didn’t see anything about preheating. But my usual Ninja air fryer has an automatic preheat stage so I assumed this one would do that too. It doesn’t. The minute you press start, the timer begins counting down - a further scour of the manual revealed that it doesn’t need preheating.

So once I'd realised there isn’t a preheat, I put my food inside before setting the timer and pressing start. And to get going I cooked a few basic but familiar foods to see how it fared.

Image of Ninja FlexDrawer during testing

(Image credit: Future/Helen McCue)

First up I made a crispy baked potato. I gave a medium size potato 7 minutes in the microwave, before coating it in oil and salt. I set up one of the cooking zones to air fry at 200C. Within 15 minutes the potato had a crunchy crisp skin. If you ask me, that’s pretty speedy, especially given that there wasn’t a preheat.

Next I cooked some frozen breaded chicken pieces in one side and some frozen quorn nuggets in the other side. Since they’re both breaded foods, I made use of the Max Crisp setting which is specifically designed to crisp up frozen foods. The temperature on this setting is a super hot 240C and it can’t be adjusted.

Testing the Ninja FlexDrawer air fryer at home

(Image credit: Future/Helen McCue)

I set the timer so the quorn nuggets cooked for a few minutes less than the larger chicken pieces. But I hit the sync button so that they’d finish at the same time. While one side is cooking the timer counts down and the display reads ‘hold’ on the other side until it starts cooking. You do have to put all the food in at the same time though.

It worked really well and both the quorn and chicken pieces cooked nicely. They remained succulent on the inside but with the benefit of a super crunchy crumb that was way crunchier than in my normal air fryer that doesn’t have the max crisp mode.

Testing the Ninja FlexDrawer air fryer at home

(Image credit: Future/Helen McCue)

Making cheese toasties in an air fryer is now my default way to make them. I made two toasties, one was cheese and chutney and the other was cheese and ham. I used my homemade sourdough and the slices are super big - close to 20 cm across. But the two toasties fit into this gigantic air fryer with room to spare. In fact you’d never tell from the photo that the slices of bread are as big as they are.

On the air fry mode they cooked in 10 minutes, with a quick turn halfway through. The bread was deliciously crisp and crunchy and the cheese melted well.

For 500g homemade chips, the cooking charts recommend air frying for 18-20 minutes at 200C. Once I’d cut up my chips, I soaked them in water for 30 minutes before drying and tossing in a small glug of oil. 

Testing the Ninja FlexDrawer air fryer at home

(Image credit: Future/Helen McCue)

I popped the chips into zone one and adjusted the settings as suggested, with the timer at 20 minutes. Then I threw a bag of frozen scampi into zone 2 and opted for the max crisp mode. I guessed at a time of 10 minutes and hit the sync button so that they’d be ready at the same time.

I gave the chips a couple of stirs during cooking. The size of the drawer means unlike other air fryers, a shake isn’t an option. And since it’s a single drawer, this meant that the scampi was being removed from the air fryer every time I stirred the chips. Nevertheless, everything cooked well.

The scampi crumb was very crunchy, in fact it could probably have done with a minute or two less. Meanwhile the chips were even and golden in colour. They were new season maris pipers so they didn’t go quite as brown as usual, but that’s the potato not the air fryer. 

Testing the Ninja FlexDrawer air fryer at home

(Image credit: Future/Helen McCue)

It has to be said that there’s so much space in this air fryer that the two portions of chips looked like barely anything in the space. Ninja suggests you can cook up to 1.5kg of chips in each side and having cooked 500g with tonnes of room to spare, I believe them.

Give me an excuse to make a sweet treat and I’ll take it. So all in the name of research, I baked this Ninja recipe for blueberry and lemon loaf cake using the bake mode. There’s not really much difference baking a cake in an air fryer to in the oven. Except that 20 minutes before the end the recipe tells you to cover the cake with foil so it doesn’t get too brown.

Testing the Ninja FlexDrawer air fryer at home

(Image credit: Future/Helen McCue)

You’d never know the finished cake wasn’t baked in an oven though. It had a dreamy soft and fluffy texture that I’d happily serve to anyone popping in for a cup of tea. But despite the fact  nobody did pop in, it still didn’t last very long! I also had great success baking a batch of granola using the bake mode.

As promised in the intro, I roasted a 2kg leg of lamb to see if it could fit, and also if it really would roast well. I followed this Ninja recipe for Greek style leg of lamb with vegetables which is in the included recipe book in the box.

Testing the Ninja FlexDrawer air fryer at home

(Image credit: Future/Helen McCue)

Thankfully my 2.2kg  lamb leg did fit quite comfortably, with plenty of space for the vegetables to be added around the sides. I followed the recipe to the letter and the lamb hit 45C on my thermometer. So I took the vegetables out, covered the lamb in foil and cooked it for a further 15 minutes. This did the trick and it rose to 60C. I gave it a good hour long rest before carving and it was cooked beautifully. 

Testing the Ninja FlexDrawer with bacon

(Image credit: Future/Helen McCue)

If you haven’t tried air frying bacon, I can’t recommend it highly enough. I managed to comfortably fit 6 pieces of back bacon into this air fryer - which is probably the most I’ve ever managed to fit into one air fryer without overlapping them. I didn’t however, need to cook this many slices, so air fried just four at 210C for 6 minutes, turning after 4 minutes. The result was perfectly cooked bacon with nicely rendered fat.

How does it compare to other Ninja air fryers?

The Ninja Foodi Max Dual Zone AF400UK is a slightly cheaper air fryer from Ninja with a slightly smaller overall capacity at 9.5 litres. It offers the same excellent cooking power and ease of use, but with two individual zones that can’t be combined into a larger zone. So if you don’t want to cook large joints of meat, it’s a great alternative to the pricier FlexDrawer.

Another Ideal Home favourite is the Instant Vortex Plus dual basket air fryer. It’s smaller than the above Ninja, offering up just 7.6 litres of cooking space. Like the Ninja there are several cooking modes and you can cook with different modes at the same time. But the big feature that sets this air fryer apart from the rest  is the viewing window in the front of each cooking drawer. So you can watch your food as it cooks and monitor browning without opening it up every five minutes - a game-changing upgrade.


The drawer, divider and crisper plates are all dishwasher safe. But while I frequently put the divider and crisper plates into the dishwasher, the drawer is big and bulky and takes up half of the bottom rack in my dishwasher. So on that basis I tended towards washing it by hand.

That said, despite having quite a big, deep butler style sink it only just fits in my sink. If you’ve got a small sink you might struggle to fit it in. Although since it just needs some warm soapy water in it - you don’t really need to be able to fit the whole thing into your sink to give it a good clean.

Most of the exterior of the air fryer is a matt black finish but it does still show greasy marks . Likewise, the two shiny silver strips show up marks so I found that the exterior needed the occasional buffing to keep it looking clean and smart.

Should you buy the Ninja Foodi FlexDrawer Air Fryer?

There are several great reasons to buy this air fryer. Namely, its huge capacity makes it the perfect choice for families or people who like to entertain a lot. And then there’s the undeniably useful flexibility of being able to switch between one larger cooking zone and two smaller ones. At this point it goes without saying that it’s simple to use and cooks superbly.

In my opinion it’s way too big for single person households unless you host a lot. And if you have a teeny kitchen, you’ll need to be prepared to find space for it, since it’s quite wide and tall. Furthermore, it’s one of the most expensive Ninja air fryers - a fact that can’t be ignored in your decision about whether to buy.

Having said that, if you’re looking to limit how often you need to turn on your big, power guzzling oven, you’ll appreciate being able to cook larger foods like the aforementioned leg of lamb and the odd loaf cake. 

Helen McCue
Freelance Reviewer

 After completing a Home Economics degree, Helen went on to work for the Good Housekeeping Institute and has been reviewing home appliances ever since. She lives in a small village in Buckinghamshire in the UK.