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Ninja AF500UK Review: Versatile Oil-Free Air Fryer

Pros

• Large capacity.
• Ability to create separate cooking zones.
• Quick heating.
• Accurate temperature control.
• Quiet operation.

Cons

• Bulky. • Drawer difficult to handle and clean. • Slightly slower heating with separate zones. • Partition plate not sufficiently insulating for large temperature differences. • No grill for two-level cooking.

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The Air Fryer Foodi Flex AF500UK promises versatile cooking space with its Flex drawer. This oil-free fryer offers separate zones but also allows them to be combined to create a MegaZone.

Overview

The AirFryer Foodi Flex AF500UK is Ninja’s largest capacity oil-free fryer. Its drawer has a total volume of 10.4 litres and benefits from Flex technology, which divides the cavity into two 5.2-litre cooking zones. Equipped with two independent heating elements for a total power of 2470 W, it offers seven programmes for easy setting adjustments and a synchronisation feature for cooking end times.

Ninja Foodi FlexDrawer Air Fryer 2

Ease of Use

The AirFryer Foodi Flex requires some counter space, measuring nearly 50 cm on each side and 30 cm deep. The 10.4-litre drawer can be tricky to handle, necessitating two-handed operation. Depending on use, tongs or a spoon may be needed to stir the food, risking crushing. The drawer’s handle is well-designed, extending far on the sides and offering a firm grip for shaking, useful for items like chips. However, the Flex drawer’s main appeal is the ability to cook a complete meal. Ninja provides a partition plate to create two 5.2-litre zones, along with two Crousty trays sized for these zones, allowing for separate cooking of a protein and a side dish.

We would have appreciated a grill for cooking smaller items on two levels to better utilise the available 5.2-litre volume on each side. Using the drawer without the partition and cooking everything together in the MegaZone is often preferable, adding faster-cooking foods during the process. The separate zones allow for synchronising cooking end times (SYNC function), loading all ingredients simultaneously, even if they have different cooking times.

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Ninja also provides a cooking guide for improvising meals with a protein and a side in the MegaZone. The MegaZone can accommodate a standard loaf tin. The separation is still useful for offering chips as a side, but it’s more practical to allocate the entire MegaZone to them. Ninja recommends 500 g of chips per zone, so 1 kg for the MegaZone, but in reality, a bit more could likely be cooked.

Ninja Foodi FlexDrawer Air Fryer 3

Maintenance

The AF500UK’s large drawer is practical for cooking but less so for cleaning. It’s a challenge to clean, despite its non-stick coating. Fitting this drawer into a dishwasher is also challenging. The Crousty trays and the partition plate, all dishwasher-safe, are more convenient. The fryer itself could have integrated grilles to protect its elements from splashes, but it is otherwise easy to clean. The control panel’s continuous plastic coating between buttons makes it easy to wipe clean and resistant to fingerprint marks.

Cooking

The AirFryer Foodi Flex AF500UK features two heaters, each with a fan, totalling 2470 W of power. These identical-sized heaters can be lit simultaneously with similar or different settings, or alone depending on the drawer’s contents. The drawer can be divided into two using a removable plate, offering separate cooking spaces, avoiding the main flaw of previous models – a lack of space for cooking large items.

In general, the AF500UK is an excellent fryer. Ninja models excel at stabilising temperature, and this one is no exception. The heaters operate intermittently with very short periods to prevent temperature drops during high-temperature cooking. At 240 °C, the maximum, the temperature inside the MegaZone varies between 237 and 243 °C. Temperature variations don’t exceed 4 °C at 200 °C, adhering well to requested temperatures.

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The AF500UK is slightly less exemplary at the lowest settings. Set at 35 °C for proofing dough, the fryer reaches 34.5 °C after 8 minutes and gradually allows the temperature to drop over 20 minutes. While it avoids overheating, the proofing might not be much faster than at room temperature.

Our various tests show that hot air circulates very well in the large drawer of the AirFryer Foodi Flex. The temperature rises quickly and evenly, though slightly less so when the partition plate is used.

These good performances enable the AF500UK to cook 1 kg of chips in just over 20 minutes in the MegaZone, which is quite fast for an oil-free fryer. We can imagine preparing even more chips in the Ninja model. While the manufacturer recommends 1 kg batches for fresh chips, this is just enough to cover the drawer’s bottom. Thus, fairly uniform cooking is possible without much effort.

Ninja Foodi FlexDrawer Air Fryer 5

Noise

The AirFryer Foodi Flex is not the quietest fryer on the counter, but it is much quieter to the ear. Our sound level meter never exceeded 50 dB (A) at 1 m from the device running at 200 °C, making it one of the quietest fryers in our comparison. Using the separator, the noise level drops to 49 dB (A) as the fans run slower.

Conclusion

The Flex drawer of the Air Fryer Foodi Flex AF500UK offers commendable modularity, but its large volume is the primary appeal. It allows for cooking almost like in an oven, without the preheating. Ninja’s latest oil-free fryer heats its large drawer quickly, and the requested temperatures are generally well respected. However, the large capacity of the AF500UK comes with significant bulk, both on the counter and in the sink or dishwasher. Additionally, the chips still lack a bit of crispness.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

5/5 (1 Review)

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Richard Garrett

Richard Garrett

As an expert on the latest techy stuff, the primary focus is PCs and laptops. Much of his time is split between smartphones, tablets and audio, focusing on the latest devices.
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