At a glanceExpert’s Rating
ProsIntuitive operation for hassle-free cookingSuper easy to clean Versatile: packed with featuresInnovative Digital Cooking ProbeConsBuild quality could be betterCumbersome: takes up a lot of counter space PriceyOur Verdict
The Foodi MAX Dual Zone Air Fryer has to be one of the most clever air fryers out there, boasting six cooking methods, a dual-cook feature for simultaneous cooking and a Digital Cooking Probe for perfectly cooked meat without constant supervision. Build quality might be lacking a little, and it’s certainly not cheap, but it’s a standout choice for those looking for an air fryer with top performance and convenience.
Air fryers are one of those gadgets that, in recent years, have become a must-have for just about anyone with a kitchen.
Whether it’s their ease of use, efficient and time-saving cooking functions, or reduced energy consumption over traditional ovens (which is certainly a blessing for many during this cost-of-living crisis), air fryers have taken the world by storm.
One of the biggest brands leading this charge is US kitchen appliance brand Ninja. So it’s only fitting to review Ninja’s latest and greatest creation, which we’ve been testing extensively over the past few months. It’s called the Foodi 6-in-1 Smart 10-qt. 2-Basket Air Fryer (DZ550) in the US and the Foodi MAX Dual Zone Air Fryer (AF451UK) in the UK.
And just to be clear, although Ninja advertises the machine’s smart cooking abilities, that’s a reference to its cooking probe and other advanced features – and not to any connected capabilities.
Design and build
Included digital cooking probe
If you’re already familiar with Ninja air fryers, you might notice that this model looks very similar to its predecessor, the DZ401/ AF400UK. So, before I dive into the review, let’s quickly discuss what sets these two models apart.
Ninja has given the control panel a bit of a makeover, swapping out the old central dial for some sleeker digital buttons. The biggest difference, however, is the addition of the Digital Cooking Probe. This nifty gadget first made an appearance on Ninja’s Foodi MAX Health Grill, which was launched a few years back. It was clearly a hit with users.
For those unfamiliar, the probe is a detachable metal prong that keeps a close eye on your food’s temperature while it’s cooking. It stows away in the side of the machine and is plugged in when needed (for cooking steaks and roast joints, for example).
Lee Bell / Foundry
What makes it clever, though, is that it lets you choose from a bunch of preset cooking options using the air fryer’s display panel, from rare to well-done (depending on the meat). You just leave the probe in there while the meat does its thing and the air fryer will give you a heads-up when it’s ready to be devoured.
Its rich feature set certainly helps here as it caters to a range of cooking scenarios thanks to its six cooking modes: air fry, max crisp air fry, bake, roast, dehydrate, and reheat
So, what about looks? To be honest, I wasn’t blown away when unboxing it. That’s probably because I’ve been using Ninja’s super sturdy Foodi MAX Health Grill for the best part of two years, which is made from some pretty high-grade materials.
But this air fryer doesn’t offer the same build quality. The chrome accents are actually plastic and so look a bit cheap and the drawers feel a bit too flimsy – like they’d crack easily if dropped. The whole thing doesn’t exactly scream quality.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still very aesthetically pleasing, with a sleek design that will look the part in any kitchen.
Performance and features
Six cooking methods
Okay, let’s talk performance.
As you’d expect from a Ninja appliance, this air fryer works consistently well, delivering excellent results across the board.
Its rich feature set certainly helps here as it caters to a range of cooking scenarios thanks to its six cooking modes: air fry, max crisp air fry, bake, roast, dehydrate, and reheat. The only method missing is grilling, but I guess Ninja wants you to buy one of its health grills separately for that.
I’ve put each and every one of these modes through rigorous testing, even getting experimental with dehydrating oranges for my Negronis. Trust me, they work perfectly.
Lee Bell / Foundry
My first test was cooking a whole 4.4lb/ 2kg chicken in one of the drawers. Thanks to the probe, it came out perfectly cooked after about 40 minutes. And the best part? I could go off and watch my favourite show without stressing about checking on it every 15 minutes. The probe worked like a charm.
The real magic of this air fryer, however, is its ability to cook a whole meal at once. While the chicken roasts in the left drawer, I’m able to toss in some diced potatoes in the other and simply set it to fry for 20 minutes before activating the Sync feature. When the timer ends, you’ve got perfectly timed chicken and wedges, ready to go.
It’s versatile, syncs like a pro, and operates smoothly, making it a kitchen must-have
There’s also a Match button for when you’re cooking the same thing in both drawers. This works well for doing a family portion of chips, for example. All you need to do is set the cooking method for one drawer, hit Match, and the settings will be duplicated to the other.
Lee Bell / Foundry
As for space, this air fryer fits a surprising amount of food in each drawer. Each drawer has a 5QT/ 4.75L capacity, or about 3.3lbs/ 1.5kg of potatoes if carbs are your thing, like me. This makes it ideal for cooking for 2-3 people, in my experience. Ninja says it feeds four, but that totally depends on how much you eat, or how hungry you are.
The best thing about it is the speed at which it cooks. Ninja claims it’s 75% faster than regular ovens. While it speeds up cooking and cuts energy use, I’m not so sure that it achieves the same results in a quarter of the time. Roast potatoes, for example, take about 20-25 minutes, while my regular oven takes 60-70 mins – a third of the time.
As for cleaning, Ninja has made it super easy. The air fryer’s grill plates pop out and can be slung straight into the dishwasher along with the rest of the drawer, making mealtime cleanup a breeze.
In a nutshell, it delivers a consistent top-notch performance. It’s versatile, syncs like a pro, and operates smoothly, making it a kitchen must-have.
Price and availability
In the US, the Ninja Foodi 6-in-1 Smart 10-qt. 2-Basket Air Fryer (DZ550) has an MSRP of $249.99 and is available from Ninja and Amazon. It’s in stock at Walmart as well but at the time of writing, it’s more expensive there.
In the UK, the Foodi MAX Dual Zone Air Fryer (AF451UK) has an RRP of £269.99. There are plenty of buying options at this price, including direct from Ninja, from Currys, John Lewis and Argos. But at the time of writing, Amazon has the best price.
But it’s not just about what it costs to buy, but what it costs to run. In the US, it’s an economical 1,690W. But the UK model is a 2,470W appliance, which means it uses a lot of power.
Using my UK energy tariff as an example, if you used both drawers at full capacity for an hour, it would cost you 77p to cook your dinner. Although that seems pricey, it’s still much more cost-effective than cooking the same dinner in the oven. And, unless you’re cooking a full roast, you’ll generally be running it for a much shorter period.
If you’re after an all-in-one air fryer that truly nails it, the Ninja Foodi MAX Dual Zone Air Fryer is where it’s at. Not only does it offer six cooking methods, including air fry, roast, bake, and even dehydrate, but the dual cook feature for simultaneous cooking, and Digital Cooking Probe are total game changers when it comes to meal time, especially if you’re into cooking meat.
It practically makes cooking (and the cleanup afterwards) a walk in the park. That’s why, among a bunch of other reasons, I consider it one of the best air fryers you can buy right now.
Sure, build quality might be lacking in parts, and it’s certainly not cheap, but it’s definitely a standout choice for those looking for an air fryer with smart features, top performance, and convenience.
If this isn’t the perfect air fryer for you, have a look at our round-up of the best air fryers we’ve tested, with pricing, at-a-glance pros and cons, and links to full reviews.
Wattage: US: 1,690W; UK: 2,470W
Capacity: 10QT/ 9.5L
Dimensions: 17.1 in L x 13.9 in W x 12.8 in H/ H:32.5 x W:41.5 x D:27 cm
6 cooking modes: Air fry, Max crisp air fry, Bake, Roast, Dehydrate, Reheat