Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill Review: A Compact Cooker That Can Do It All, with Smoke!

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The Lowdown

I love that the Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill is a portable and competent cooker that can be used as a smoker, air-fryer, convection oven, dehydrator, or grill right out of the box and without any additional accessories. It’s perfect for homes that have limited outdoor space and for bringing along when RV camping and tailgating. But on top of that, it is so convenient and easy to use that even if you have other full-size outdoor cooking options, you may find yourself firing it up more often than its larger counterparts. There’s no wood to gather, charcoal to buy, or propane bottles to fill; as long as you have electrical power, you can cook. Best of all, cleanup is very easy!

Pros

  • Attractive design that is sturdily built
  • Heats up fast
  • Essentially five appliances in one
  • You can easily add smoke flavor to your cooks
  • The perfect outdoor cooking station for people who don’t have a lot of patio space
  • The controls are intuitive
  • The grill is portable, so it can be brought along for RV camping or tailgating
  • Easy to use and easy to clean

Cons

  • No included grill cover
  • No integrated meat thermometer in the non-Pro version
Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill Review: A Compact Cooker That Can Do It All, with Smoke! Listen to this article

If home is an apartment where the use of open-flame grills is banned on patios and balconies, you can still enjoy cooking outside with the Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill. Billed as a portable and compact electric cooker, the Ninja Woodfire’s primary function is grilling; however, it’s also a wood-infused BBQ smoker, air fryer, and outdoor convection oven that can bake, roast, broil, and even dehydrate. If the Ninja Woodfire actually delivers an enjoyable outdoor cooking experience anywhere with electrical power, then I can think of quite a few other uses for it, too. Let’s take a look.

Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill Review: A Compact Cooker That Can Do It All, with Smoke!

We’ve been writing about Ninja‘s excellent home appliances for years, but the Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill is the brand’s first device meant to be used outside; there are two models to choose from: the $459.60 Ninja Woodfire Pro Outdoor Grill and the $369.60 Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill.

From what I can tell, the main difference between the two models — beyond the inclusion of a combo crisper basket (a $25 value) and a two-pound bag of the Ninja Woodfire All-Purpose Blend Pellets (a $15.99 value) — is that the Pro includes an integrated thermometer that plugs directly into the grill. With the Pro model’s built-in thermometer, you’ll be able to continuously monitor the internal temperature of any meats you’re cooking, which is a very handy feature to have right out of the box.

The non-Pro model I’m reviewing doesn’t have a thermometer port, so even if Ninja offers replacement thermometers, you won’t be able to “upgrade” your non-Pro grill with one after the fact. However, if you already have a wired or wireless BBQ thermometer or a hand-held meat thermometer (like my fave, the Thermapen ONE), it’s easy enough to keep track of your cook.

Inside the box, you’ll find the Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill, two easily installed handles (a hex key is included), a grease tray, a removable woodfire smoke box, a pellet scoop, a nonstick grill grate, a crisper basket, two sample bags of Ninja Woodfire Pellets, a Quick Start Guide & Recipe Book, and a warranty information & safety instructions booklet.

Click any photo to open the gallery.

The Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill is available in dark gray with black trim or red with black trim. Beyond the already mentioned combo crisper basket and all-purpose blend pellets that can be purchased separately from the Pro model, Ninja also offers a $35 flat-top griddle plate, a $149 collapsible grill stand, a $20 premium grill cover, and a two-pound bag of robust blend pellets for $15.99.

While I appreciate that you can buy the exact add-ons you want versus paying more for a bunch of accessories you might never need, I wish that both the non-Pro and Pro versions included a cover.

[This seems like as good a place as any to mention that as I write this, Ninja has a holiday promotion that includes a grill cover, veggie tray (a $19.95 value), and a set of roasting lifters  ($14.95 value) as a gift with the purchase of the Pro model; if you buy the non-Pro model, you’ll get the veggie tray and roasting lifters but no cover.]

The Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill is built to be weather-resistant and sturdy; it’s also quite self-contained and compact, which is what you need when outdoor space is limited, or you want to bring it along for RV camping and tailgating. Including the handles, protruding rear feet, and top vent, the grill measures approximately 24″ wide by 13.5″ tall by 19″ deep, and it weighs 30 pounds; it’s heavy because most of the grill’s body is made of metal.

Lifting the lid, there’s a heating element on the bottom; a second heating element wraps around the convection fan, which is integrated into the vented hood. The aluminum grill grate, which has a nonstick, high-heat ceramic coating, has a drain on the back edge that keeps the grate securely seated above the heating element. The grill grate measures approximately 14″ wide by 10.75″ deep, so it should provide roughly 150.5 square inches of cooking surface.

When using the included crisper basket, the grill grate should be kept on top of the heating element; grooves on the bottom of the basket align with depressions on the grate’s surface to keep the crisper properly centered. The interior of the crisper basket measures approximately 13″ wide by 9″ deep with 2.75″ sides.

On the right side of the Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill, there’s an integrated smoke box holder that comes into play when you’re using the Ninja Woodfire Pellets to get BBQ smoke flavor. The removable smoke box should always be used with the wood pellets, but if you aren’t using pellets, it’s fine to leave the empty smoke box in the holder.

The Ninja Woodfire arrives fully assembled with the exception of the thick plastic side-carry handles; the handles are marked R and L, so there’s no guessing. Each of the four handle ends has an internal hex screw that you’ll use the included Allen wrench to secure after you’ve slotted the handles into their correct tabs on the grill’s base. It literally took me three minutes to do this; as far as product assemblies go, this grill knocks it out of the park.

Pro tip: Install the handles before you remove the tape keeping the grill’s cover closed; that way, it won’t flop open when you flip the grill over to tighten the hex screws.

 

The grease tray slides into a slot on the back side of the grill, and it should always be in place before you start a cook. I like that the tray is so easy to access, which makes emptying, cleaning, and putting it back after each use less of a chore. The grease tray can sometimes wiggle a little bit from right to left, but that’s by design; it’s so the tray can slide out easily without getting jammed or accidentally sloshing grease onto your hand.

The Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill has a 4′ long 20A weatherproof cord. Ninja specifies that the grill can use up to 1760 watts of power; it must be plugged into an outlet with a 15A circuit breaker. If you plug the grill into an outlet that’s on a 10A breaker, it will likely trip. They also advise that when using the grill, it be the only item plugged into the outlet.

If you need a longer cable to reach the closest outlet, you can plug the grill into a 14 gauge (up to 25′ long) or a 12 gauge (up to 50′ long) extension cord marked with SJOW that states it’s suitable for use with outdoor appliances. If you plan to use the grill when RV camping or tailgating, you’ll need to ensure that your RV or portable power bank‘s outlets can provide 15A of 120V power.

There's a circuit breaker built into the Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill's electrical cable; it is fine to attach it to an outdoor extension cord with the proper length and gauge

The fully assembled Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill looks great! With the handles installed, it is basically a 30-pound block, but the handles are sturdy. As long as you can lift the weight, the cooker can be moved wherever needed.

ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4

Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill Review: A Compact Cooker That Can Do It All, with Smoke!

Before you use the grill for the first time, you should familiarize yourself with the controls. On the far left is a knob with stops at Off, Grill, Smoker, Air Crisp, Bake, Roast, Broil, and Dehydrate. The “Woodfire Flavor Technology” button gets pressed when the smoke box is loaded with pellets and you want to add smoke to your cook.

A 4″ long by 1″ tall display shows temperature and timing info, which will change depending on the mode you’ve selected with the dial, but both can be adjusted manually with the Temp and Time buttons under the display. Finally, there is a Start/Stop button on the right.

The Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill says "Bye" when you turn it off

When you aren’t using the grill, the knob on the left should be turned Off.

Unless you are using the Smoke, Broil, or Dehydrate mode, it’s important to let the Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill fully preheat before you slap your protein or vegetables on it. If you plan to use pellets in the smoke box during the Grill mode, you can fill the box with a scoop of pellets, press the Woodfire Flavor Technology button, and then press the start button. The pellets will undergo an ignition cycle lasting about 7 minutes before the grill begins preheating.

Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill Review: A Compact Cooker That Can Do It All, with Smoke!

It’s worth mentioning that Grilling is the only mode where the cooker will work with the hood up after preheating with the lid closed. If you plan on cooking with the cover open, you won’t be able to use the Woodfire Flavor Technology/wood pellets. Once the preheat cycle is finished, “Add Food” will show on the display; if you keep the lid open, the timer will start counting down after 30 seconds, and you’ll be able to grill using the bottom burner without convection.

Being able to cook with the top open is handy if you like to keep a close eye on your items as they cook or if you’re a compulsive burger flipper, but it becomes truly necessary when using the optional flat-top griddle plate.

If you have a hankering for BBQ, there’s enough room inside the Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill to fit up to two racks of ribs, a 9-pound brisket, or a ten-pound turkey.* You’ll turn the knob to Smoker, fill the smoke box, adjust the temperature and the time to your preferences, hit the Woodfire button, and then press start.

*Although the cover is about 7″ tall, there’s really only about 5″ clearance inside due to the heating element and the convection fan in the center of the lid. With that in mind, if you plan to cook a turkey, Ninja recommends you use spatchcocking to lay the turkey flat and decrease its height.

Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill Review: A Compact Cooker That Can Do It All, with Smoke!

You can use the Air Crisp mode with or without the included crisper basket; the basket is great when you’re cooking loose items like brussels sprouts or french fries, but if you’re trying to air fry something that isn’t loose and won’t roll, like chicken wings or a leftover eggroll (don’t judge), you can do it directly on the grill grate.

Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill Review: A Compact Cooker That Can Do It All, with Smoke!

You can use the Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill as an oven for baking, roasting, or broiling when you don’t want to heat your house by using the oven.

 

And finally, Dehydrate mode makes it easy to enjoy homemade jerkies, dried herbs, or dehydrated fruits and veggies.

Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill Review: A Compact Cooker That Can Do It All, with Smoke!

The Quick Start Guide and Recipe Book  (.pdf) is a great reference with instructions, plenty of recipes, and handy charts to help you get the right temperature and time for your cook based on the food item and the mode selected.

So let’s walk through an actual cook with photos! Click the first picture to open a gallery with comments on each image.

I’m not sure if you noticed, but in the background of some of the photos in the gallery above, you can catch glimpses of Kev’s Lyfe Tyme Double Lid Smoker pit BBQ that he’d usually have to use to get a wood smoke flavor and this type of crust. Which explains why we have been blown away by how easy the Ninja Woodfire is to use and how well it performs.

When we have a crowd over, or Kev’s in full-on meat-smoking mode, he’ll use the Lyfe Tyme, but the Ninja Woodfire has proven to be the perfect cooking option when it’s a smaller dinner crew.

I love that the Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill is a portable and competent cooker that can be used as a smoker, air-fryer, convection oven, dehydrator, or grill right out of the box and without any additional accessories. It’s perfect for homes that have limited outdoor space and for bringing along when RV camping and tailgating. But on top of that, it is so convenient and easy to use that even if you have other full-size outdoor cooking options, you may find yourself firing it up more often than its larger counterparts.

There’s no wood to gather, charcoal to buy, or propane bottles to fill; as long as you have electrical power, you can cook. Best of all, cleanup is very easy!

The Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill starts at $369.60; it is available directly from the manufacturer and other retailers, including Amazon.

Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample

What I Like: Attractive design that is sturdily built; Heats up fast; Essentially five appliances in one; You can easily add smoke flavor to your cooks; The perfect outdoor cooking station for people who don’t have a lot of patio space; The controls are intuitive; The grill is portable, so it can be brought along for RV camping or tailgating; Easy to use and easy to clean

What Needs Improvement: No included grill cover; No integrated meat thermometer in the non-Pro version

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Editor in Chief of Gear Diary, Secular Humanist, techie, foodie, hoarder of Kindle eBooks, lover of live music, and collector of passport stamps.