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In barbecue terms, Ninja’s Woodfire Electric BBQ Grill & Smoker is something a bit different. It’s an electric outdoor grill with versatile cooking options, plus a box on the side that burns wood pellets to give your food a fantastic smoky flavour.
Design and build
1.5m power cable
Compact for a BBQ
Does not come with cover or stand
At 34 x 46 x 46cm (13 x 18 x 18in), the Ninja Woodfire Electric BBQ Grill & Smoker would be chunky if you had to keep it in a cupboard indoors, but it’s not huge in barbecue terms. If you’re storing it on a patio or balcony, not in the shed, you’ll want to fork out for the optional, weather-resistant cover ($20/ £19.99).
There’s also a stand you can buy separately – but save your money and spend it on a patio table instead. The only accessory that’s truly essential is a bag of wood pellets. The Original Blend is milder, the Robust Blend is richer. The Ninja comes with a small sample bag of each.
The machine also comes with a crisper basket for air frying, a well-designed scoop for adding wood pellets and a small tray that goes on the underside to collect grease. There’s also a recipe book.
It arrives nearly assembled. You just need to attach a large handle on each side. They’re clearly labelled left and right, they even come with a small tool for the job. Once the handles are on, the Ninja is easy to lift.
Build quality is sturdy. Inside you have a grill plate with an electric element below it. There’s plenty of cooking height and inside the lid is a fan for fast convection cooking.
The appliance boasts touch controls for temperature and time, plus a dial to select the cooking mode: smoker, grill, air fry, roast, bake, dehydrate, reheat. Most important is a button to trigger the smoker box. Some recipes ask for it and some don’t, but almost everything tastes better smoky.
The power cable reaches 1.5m from the back (regardless of what the official specs say), so this very much dictates where you can use the Ninja Woodfire. You need to be near a socket. There’s an RCD (residual current device) built in to the plug, so power should turn off automatically if there’s a problem.
We were pleased to see that the plug design did work with a weatherproof outdoor socket as some electric barbecues have bulky plugs that frustratingly don’t.
38 x 28cm (15 x 11in) cooking area
Provided recipes are accurate
The grill area of 38 x 28cm (15 x 11in) is not gigantic, but the Ninja makes up for it with its speedy and consistent cooking. You can cook fast and predictably. The supplied recipe book is diverse and features something for everyone.
Meat dishes range from pulled pork to chipotle chicken wings, both perfect for the wood smoker. But vegetarians and vegans are well catered for too. Everything from paneer tikka and halloumi to corn-on-the-cob and simple veggie kebabs cook well on it.
Caramel Quin / Tech Advisor
The provided recipes give precise times and they proved accurate. You select a cooking mode, time and temperature, then there’s a short time to pre-heat. If you’re using the smoker you press the button to ignite that too. It took six minutes to pre-heat in our test. You can hear the fan whirr and, if using the smoker, you’ll see white smoke rise from it too.
The Ninja beeps and the display tells you to add food. When you close the lid again, the timer automatically starts, counting down to dinner time. (Don’t make the mistake we did the first time of pressing the start/stop button again at this point… we accidentally turned it off!)
You can tell it’s cooking with all your senses. It’s counting down, the fan is still audible, the food is sizzling and the smoke is blowing. Yes, your clothes will smell like you’ve sat around a campfire. This alone is almost worth the Ninja’s price tag – although your dinner guests may disagree.
The recipe results were impressive and cooking was fast. Even smoky tear-and-share garlic bread was a foodie revelation. But the grill’s size does mean you won’t be feeding an army. So, if you like entertaining, you might want to keep your old barbecue too. You could cook most stuff on your main barbecue and use the Ninja to slow-cook the smoked pulled pork or air fry the smoky potato wedges.
Caramel Quin / Foundry
But if there are just a couple of you, you could keep this on your patio or balcony and soak up the sun as you cook foodie meals outdoors all summer long with minimal effort.
Even cleaning was okay. The grill plate and non-stick air frier basket were easy to wash by hand; sadly they’re not dishwasher safe. The smoker box (which is small, about the size of a pack of cards) has an inner section that slides out for easy emptying, but it contained hot ashes, so we couldn’t empty it till the next day.
Price and availability
The Ninja Woodfire Electric BBQ Grill & Smoker isn’t the cheapest way to cook outdoors. But what it offers is all the advantages of consistent, indoor cooking, along with a smoky outdoor flavour.
If you’re in the US, it has an MSRP of $369.99 but at the time of writing, it’s available from Amazon and Best Buy for $329.99.
In the UK, there are plenty of places to buy from – including Amazon, Argos and John Lewis – but prices don’t vary much from the £349.99 RRP.
Ninja Woodfire Electric BBQ Grill & Smoker is impressive thanks to its precise, fast cooking and – most of all – thanks to its smoker box. We said it before and we’ll say it again, almost everything tastes better smoky. It’s a bit pricey, which lost it half a star, but if you have space for this outdoor grill in your life, and on your patio or balcony, you won’t be disappointed.