The Ninja Foodi FlexDrawer Air Fryer 10.4L AF500UK has a huge capacity when you just need to cook a lot of food, but can split into two for when you want to cook two different foods at once. Technically, you can cook in just half of the drawer, although you still have to wash the entire thing when done.
- Easy to use
- Excellent results
- Huge amount of cooking space
- Entire drawer has to be washed, even if you use half
- Cooking spaceThere’s a total of 10.4-litres of space, which an be used as one large compartment, or divided into two smaller cooking areas.
- Cooking modesMax crisp, air fry, roast, bake, reheat, dehydrate and prove are all available.
I’m a big fan of Ninja’s dual-drawer air fryers; they give flexibility when required and double up on capacity when I simply need to cook more. Well, the latter is true to a point: the size of items is limited by the drawer size.
With the e Ninja Foodi FlexDrawer Air Fryer 10.4L AF500UK, there’s one massive drawer with an optional divider that effectively turns this into two air fryers.
If you need the single zone with a huge capacity, then it’s an excellent choice.
Design and features
- Single large zone
- Clever controls based on one-zone or two-zone cooking
- Easy to use
There’s not much between the Ninja Foodi FlexDrawer Air Fryer 10.4L AF500UK and the Ninja Foodi MAX Dual Zone Air Fryer AF400UK. Both are roughly the same size, but the new AF500K has a slightly higher overall capacity at 10.4 litres, compared to 9.5 litres of space in the dual drawer model.
That’s down to the design of the AF500UK, which has a single large drawer that pulls out the front; the AF400UK’s dual-drawer design means some space is lost to have a divider between the drawers, and the drawers themselves take up room.
Pull out the large drawer, and there’s space for two crisper plates at the bottom. I could then either use the entire space in one, which gives more than enough room for a large chicken and accompaniments, or I could use the provided divider to split the space into two individual zones.
Doing the latter becomes useful for flexibility, as it’s possible to cook two different dishes at the same time, using different settings and timings.
As with Ninja’s previous dual-drawer efforts, the AF500UK focuses on making things simple, aided by the excellent quick-start guide that lists recommended cooking modes, times and temperatures for common dishes.
Cooking modes include air fry, roast, bake, reheat, dehydrate and prove, all of which then give you a temperature setting and timer. There’s also the Max Crisp mode, which cooks at 240C, giving super-crispy results on food that need this level of heat, such as hash browns.
With no divider in place, the air fryer operates in its Mega Zone mode: think of it as just a very big air fryer.
With a divider in place, the zones can be treated entirely independently, functioning as their own air fryers (and saving energy if you need to cook on one side only), or you can use the dual-zone controls.
Sync makes sure that the two zones finish cooking at the same time, allowing you to cook different foods at different temperatures in each zone, yet have a complete meal at a specific time.
Match just synchronises the two zones so that they use the same settings. This feature is useful on a true dual-basket one, where both drawers are loaded with the same food (say, doubling up on chips). Here, it feels superfluous. Why not just take the divider out and use all the space if you simply need to cook more of the same?
There’s no pre-heat on this model, with it warming fast. As with all air fryers, the food needs to be agitated while cooking to make sure it cooks evenly. Normally, a drawer makes this easy, as you pull it out and shake. With the very large drawer here, that’s a little harder, so using silicone tongs to move food around made more sense.
I did find that the divider is not a perfect insulator. After cooking in one zone only, the empty zone was very warm. In practice, it didn’t make any difference to the quality of the cooking when I had different food on either side.
At the end of a cook, the drawer and crisper plates can be washed down, or you can stick them in a dishwasher for convenience.
- Exceptional, crisp results
- Even cooking
- Very flexible
Max Crisp mode on the Ninja AF500UK means that it can cook at a very high temperature, which is perfect for food that needs to be cooked quickly with a crisp exterior, such as hash browns. To me, the perfect hash brown has a crisp exterior and a soft and fluffy interior, and the Ninja AF500UK delivers.
Next, I moved on to cooking an entire meal in the air fryer, cooking chips on one side and a chicken breast on the other, getting them both to finish at the same time.
My chips came out perfectly: crispy exterior, fluffy interior and evenly cooked throughout the entire batch.
I was pleased with my chicken breast, too, cooked on the roast setting. It’s easy to get chicken wrong and have it dried up and horrible, but the Ninja AF500UK did a great job, cooking through but leaving the breast moist.
I finished up dehydrating the last of my garden’s herbs before the cold weather set in and they all died.
Should you buy it?
You need capacity and flexibility
The single large drawer means you can cook a huge amount of food in one go, while the divider means you can cook two different items simultaneously.
You mostly cook different foods or smaller portions
A traditional two-drawer air fryer may be more useful, particularly for smaller portions, where you only need to clean one basket. Check out the Ninja Foodi MAX Dual Zone Air Fryer AF400UK if that’s the case.
Easy to use, powerful and producing excellent, even results, the Ninja AF500UK is another winner from the company. Whether it’s right for you depends on what you need to do. If you mostly need maximum capacity, with the option for flexibility, it’s a great choice; if you mostly cook smaller portions or two different food types, the existing AF400UK and its twin baskets may suit you more. Otherwise, check out my guide to the best air fryers.
How we test
We test every air fryer we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.
Used as our main air fryer for the review period
We cook real food in each air fryer, making chips, frying sausages and cooking frozen hash browns. This lets us compare quality between each air fryer that we test.
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A divider splits the main drawer into two, and each half can be used independently.
Yes, the drawer and crisper plates can go into the dishwasher.