Air Fryer Review: Mealthy CrispLid vs Ninja
A Mealthy CrispLid review and Ninja air fryer review in one, we’ll compare the air fryer lid vs air fryer to find out once and for all: Is the Mealthy CrispLid worth the money?
Air fryers changed the game a few years back. They allowed us to cook french fries, brown chicken skin, or crisp up broccoli almost as well as a deep fryer would, but with only a fraction of the oil (and so much less mess!).
Then Mealthy changed the game again when they came out with an air fryer lid — a lid you use with your Instant Pot or other pressure cooker that turns your existing appliance into an air fryer without having to buy a dedicated machine.
How does the Mealthy CrispLid work its magic? The hot, constantly circulating air keeps food as dry as possible while it cooks, so that it gets nice and crispy. Unlike the lid that comes with your pressure cooker, the CrispLid doesn’t seal, but simply sits on top of the pressure cooker (it works with any 6- or 8-quart pressure cooker). In the lid is a heating element and a fan that blows hot air evenly over your food. The pressure cooker itself is turned off while you use the CrispLid, and just acts as a base.
It’s a brilliant design! But is the CrispLid as good as a dedicated air fryer? To find out, we tested the newest version of the Mealthy CrispLid, which came out in early 2020, and a Ninja air fryer to compare ease of use, cook time, quality of results, and ease of cleaning.
Before we get into how the appliances work, let’s look at the basic facts about each.
- Price: At the time of this writing, the Ninja air fryer currently sells for $119.99, while the Mealthy CrispLid is $64.95 — just over half the price.
- Capacity: The Ninja air fryer has a 4-quart capacity; the CrispLid’s capacity depends on whether you’re using the wire basket or the pressure cooker’s steel cooking pot. If using the wire basket, the CrispLid seems to hold about the same amount of food as the air fryer given that food needs to be in a single layer for optimal crispness.
- Settings: The CrispLid offers air fry, crisp, broil, and 5 dehydrator settings, as well as manual temperature control. The Ninja offers air fry, roast, reheat, and 5 dehydrator settings, and also offers manual temperature control. While the exact differences between these settings are unclear, it’s fair to say that both devices offer similar options.
- Temperature: The CrispLid gets up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, while the Ninja tops out at 400 degrees.
- Dimensions: The CrispLid is 10″ x 10″ x 5″ (about the same size as the Instant Pot lid) and weighs 3.25 pounds, while the Ninja is much larger: 13.6″L x 11″ W x 13.3″ H and weighs 10.58 pounds.
- Warranty: Both products come with a one-year limited warranty.
Ease of Use
Both the CrispLid and the Ninja air fryer are extremely easy and intuitive to operate, though the air fryer gets a slight advantage for requiring fewer parts, plus ease of shaking / stirring the food partway through cooking, and the CrispLid has a slight advantage for versatility.
With the CrispLid, you place the included trivet in the bottom of the Instant Pot’s stainless steel cook pot to elevate your food nearer to the heating element, then place the included wire basket on top of the trivet. Your food goes inside the wire basket, you set the CrispLid on top, and you’re ready to cook. One advantage to the CrispLid is that you can also cook food directly in the Instant Pot’s cook pot. For example, if you pressure cook a chicken in the Instant Pot, you can crisp the skin with the CrispLid without removing it from the pot. You could also brown cheese or bread crumbs on top of potatoes, lasagna, or other Instant Pot–cooked dishes.
With the Ninja air fryer, there are no additional pieces to keep track of; you simply put your food inside the fryer basket and push the basket into place in the machine, then turn on.
With any air fryer, it’s important to shake or stir your food every few minutes, or at least once midway through cooking, to get an even cook. In this regard, the air fryer has a distinct advantage. You simply remove the fryer basket by its handle — no hot pad required — and shake. If some of the food sticks to the bottom of the basket, you may need to stir it with a wooden spoon or use silicone-coated tongs.
With the CrispLid, you must remove the lid from the pot and set it down. Luckily, Mealthy includes a heat-resistant mat to set the lid on top of (given that the heating element is in the lid, the bottom of the lid is extremely hot when you take it off). Instead of shaking the basket by a handle, you must stir the food while the wire basket is still inside the cook pot, holding it in place with a hot pad so the basket doesn’t spin around. Alternately, you can lift the basket out by its two wire handles to shake it, but there’s less room for shaking than in the air fryer basket. The fact that all the pieces are hot makes this a more awkward, inconvenient experience — but all in all, it’s no worse than stirring food on a sheet pan in a hot oven.
One benefit to the CrispLid is the clear glass of the lid around the heating element. This allows you to peek in at your food while it cooks without stopping the appliance, which prevents burning and makes it easy to tell when it’s time to shake or stir the food.
The Ninja won hands-down for cook time. It cooked food in roughly half the time as the CrispLid. In fact, the long cook time seems to be the main complaint about the CrispLid in customer reviews.
The longer cook time isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. The air fryer’s short cook times meant that the difference between perfectly cooked and burned was sometimes very short. With the CrispLid, you have a little longer to stop the cooking before dinner is ruined.
Broccoli, for example, took about 20 minutes to crisp up in the CrispLid, but less than 10 in the Ninja air fryer. Tater tots took 25 minutes in the CrispLid, but 10 to 15 in an air fryer. And frozen vegetables took 25 to 30 minutes in the CrispLid, and 10 to 15 in an air fryer.
Quality of Results
The potential for burning food factors into the quality of results for each appliance as well. While it’s still possible to burn food in the CrispLid, the window is longer than with the air fryer, and the clear lid of the CrispLid means you can keep an eye on things and stop cooking early if need be. With the air fryer, your first heads-up that food is starting to burn is when you smell it — and by that point, it’s likely too late.
The CrispLid has a slight advantage when it comes to air circulation all the way around the pieces of food. Both appliances cook food from the top and do little to brown the bottom (which is why shaking or stirring midway through is so important), but the CrispLid’s wire basket seems to allow for slightly more heat to reach the bottom of the food than the Ninja’s crisper plate does.
Overall, however, the air fryer got foods a little crisper and cooked them a little more evenly than the CrispLid.
Ease of Cleaning
The Ninja’s crisper plate and fryer basket are covered in a ceramic nonstick coating that’s very easy to wash and seems durable. Both pieces can go in the dishwasher if desired — though the fryer basket may be too large to easily fit — or can be washed by hand. The crisper plate is easy to remove from the fryer basket, and can be easily soaked inside the basket if needed.
The CrispLid itself does not require more than a wipe with a sponge to keep it clean, but the accessories, such as the wire basket and trivet, are a bit more involved to clean than the Ninja. Because they’re made of stainless steel, food does get stuck to them, and the basket can be difficult to scrub given that it’s made of wire. These pieces can go in the dishwasher, though are probably best pre-scrubbed. The inside of the pressure cooker pot also needs to be washed after use.
All in all, the CrispLid is more difficult to clean, but is no worse than most cooking cleanup — it’s just in comparison to the simple cleanup of the Ninja that it seems like a pain.
The Ninja air fryer has a slight advantage over the CrispLid on most measures, but we heartily recommend both appliances. If price is a consideration, space is at a premium, or getting as hot as possible is important to the type of cooking you’re doing, the CrispLid is the way to go. Otherwise, go with the Ninja air fryer.
A little note:
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To learn more about what and how to air fry, as well as all the cooking times and temperatures for many common foods, check out our Air Fryer Cooking Chart.
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