Grilling is deep in our DNA as the human species. Imagine Ug The Cavemen, laboring over hot coals and woolly mammoth steaks to feed his family. Then think about Bob, the suburban dad, throwing some shish kabobs on his new backyard grill for the same reason. See? They have more in common than you think.
We all gotta eat.
Few activities in modern life spark our primal instincts more than the sizzle and smoke of supper wafting through the air outside, on the grill, where we can make our neighbors envious of the evening’s feast.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks this — tending to meat on heat with a pair of tongs and an apron draped around my neck like battle armor makes me want to thump my fists on my chest and grunt in Neanderthalithic approval. Think: The grunts Tim The Tool Man Taylor makes.
These days, you don’t even have to light a match (or rub two sticks together to spark a fire) to get those wonderful smoky flavors in your proteins. Heck, you don’t even need to lug around a heavy fuel source, like a bag of charcoal or firewood from a tree you fell. With the right equipment, all you have to do is plug and play and, voilà, your dinner is ready.
Introducing the Ninja Woodfire™ Pro Connect XL Outdoor Grill & Smoker
The Ninja Woodfire™ Pro Connect XL Outdoor Grill & Smoker does exactly that, and so much more. Now available via NinjaKitchen.com for $500, this revolutionary piece of outdoor cooking technology features seven cooking functions in one (Grill, Smoker, Roast, Bake, Dehydrate, Air Crisp, and Broil).
This electric outdoor cooker is a modern breakthrough in preparing supper, teleporting our inner caveman into the 22nd century. It’s as if Ug, our hunter-gathering ancestor, shook hands with a futuristic cyborg chef from a scifi movie and engineered the ultimate tool for barbecue magic, minus the fear of saber-tooth tigers crashing the party for the leftovers.
The Ninja Woodfire™ Pro Connect XL Outdoor Grill & Smoker mixes the best of grilling science with culinary creativity, all with a few touches of the button, twists of a dial, or taps on your smartphone.
As long as you’re somewhat technologically proficient (meaning you can connect a Bluetooth speaker to your smartphone and connect to the airport Wi-Fi without a meltdown), it’s easy to operate too. Like, bunny slopes, dummy-proof, hitting-from-the-red-tee-box-on-a-par-3 easy.
In fact, easy is an operative word here. Everything about owning and operating the Ninja Woodfire™ Pro Connect XL Outdoor Grill & Smoker is just easy. And for that alone, it’s my favorite new cooking device in a long time.
Let me tell you why this piece of grilling wizardry is a game-changer…
Use the code BRO10 for 10% off the Ninja Woodfire™ Pro Connect XL Outdoor Grill & Smoker via NinjaKitchen.com
An electric outdoor grill and smoker that does it all
I live in Los Angeles, on the west side of town. It’s a great city for outdoor grilling thanks to the temperate weather and indoor-outdoor lifestyle that makes California livin’ so great. It’s the best city in the country when it comes to delicious carne asade or al pastor tacos prepared over an open flame on a city sidewalk. We really love our tacos around here.
But what we don’t have is a lot of room in our living spaces for big, bulky grilling and smoking equipment that’s become popular with at-home chefs in recent years. Unless you’re really, really well-off, we just don’t have the ample deck or patio space.
The Ninja Woodfire™ Pro Connect XL Outdoor Grill & Smoker solves that conundrum perfectly. It’s a space-saver, easily stowable at 38.94 lbs. Yet it has 180 square inches of cooking space—30% more than the original Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill that came out in spring 2023. The nonstick grill grate fits up to 2 full racks of ribs, 10 burgers, 4 lbs of wings, 2 7-lbs chickens, or a 10-lb brisket, according to Ninja. Ample cooking space for a hungry family or friends gathered at your house on game day, saving you big bucks on delivery in the long-run.
You can put it on its dedicated Ninja stand and stash it away when you’re finishing grilling in your driveway, yard, or balcony.
As long as you have an electric outlet to plug it into, you’re in business.
Reminder: Code BRO10 at checkout for 10% off via NinjaKitchen.com
An electric smoker with authentic smoky flavors
When I wrote about my pizza night with the Ninja Woodfire™ Outdoor Oven over the the summer, my uncle, the king of all things grilled and barbecued in my family, asked me why it’s called a “Woodfire™” when it’s an electric-powered outdoor oven?
He was stumped. “How exactly does this thing use wood in the cooking process?”, he questioned on text message. He couldn’t understand how an electric oven could introduce smoke flavors without having to call the fire department.
Allow me to explain!
The smoker magic comes from Ninja Woodfire™ technology.
There’s a smoker box on the side of the grill that burns real wood pellets while you cook. Just fill it up with a half a cup (provided in the box!) and tap the Woodfire™ flavor button on the front control panel or toggle in the app. Electricity powers the smoker box, sparking the wood pellets. The grill and smoker evenly smolders your pellets while your food cooks on the non-stick grilling surface. There’s no flame involved, though the wood pellets are definitely burning in there while your grill is pre-heating.
You smell and see it at work. It heats up quick.
Pre-heating the Ninja Woodfire™ Pro Connect XL Outdoor Grill & Smoker is a must, so be patient with it after you plug it in and turn it on. It is quite a sight to behold for the first time – one that surely would puzzle Ug the Caveman as some sort of technological witchcraft and sorcery. After all, it’d take days and lots of grunt work to get a fire roaring for Ug to cook his meals on. Here we are, pushing a button to inject smoke into our meats without having to bang rocks together. What a time to be alive.
The smoke box is a key feature of any Ninja Woodfire™ product. It’s especially a key feature the Ninja Woodfire™ Pro Connect XL Outdoor Grill & Smoker, since this thing can handle a 10lb brisket. This thing was built for people looking for a dummy-proof way to make delicious homemade barbeque in the backyard, minus a whole lot of fuss.
In fact, after my first-go tasting food I cooked in the smoker, it’s all I can think about.
The result blows my mind for an electric grill. The Ninja Woodfire™ infuses your proteins or veggies with a rich, smoky flavor when turned on. The taste is one-of-a-kind, both mouthwatering and savory. Warning: It’s addictive, giving your food a certain zing and flavor that will have you thinking of new things to make on it while you lay in bed at night.
When you buy this grill via NinjaKitchen.com, it comes with a small Ninja Woodfire™ Robust & All-Purpose Blend pellet starter packs. Once you go through the starter packs, you can buy the pellets in 2lb bags on the Ninja Kitchen website.
Ninja ProConnect App: The easiest way to level up your grilling skills
There’s an app for everything in our homes these days. Why not an app for your outdoor cooker? The brand new Ninja ProConnect App is pre-programed with all kinds of delicious ideas for meals to sink your teeth in.
This is Ninja Kitchen’s first ever app for grilling. It’s a game-changer that saves you time by eliminating the need to scour long-winded recipe sites.
It’s basically a sous-chef at your fingertips, giving you full cooking control over the grill and how you want to prepare your food. This is the nerve-center of the cooker, giving you times and temps for things you want to air fry, grill, smoke, roast, broil, or dehydrate. It tells you when it’s done pre-heating and counts down the time left on your food, as well as optimal temperatures. The cooking notifications are nice if you’re like me and get distracted easily, especially when company’s around.
If you’re cooking proteins, you can use the Ninja Woodfire™ XL Smart Thermometers that come with it to cook your protein of choice to the desired temperature at the desired heat. It will give a reading in the app, allowing you to keep an eye on when dinner will actually be ready.
My first cook on the Ninja Woodfire™ Pro Connect XL Outdoor Grill & Smoker
Now let’s talk about my maiden voyage with this bad boy. I’ve been on a big BBQ kick lately. Particularly, BBQ chicken, smothered in sauces. My usual, dummy-proof chicken meal is throwing a pack of drumsticks in the air fryer for 25 minutes at 400 degrees and just letting it do its thing, then lathering BBQ sauce all over them for the last two minutes of cooking.
After a barbecue pilgrimage to Memphis on a bachelor party a couple weeks ago, I’ve been craving those smoky barbecue flavors that you can only get with real wood or charcoal, done low and slow.
For me first meal on the Ninja Woodfire™ Pro Connect XL Outdoor Grill & Smoker, I decided to do smoked drumsticks and thighs (because dark meat equals juicy goodness). I generously seasoned the drumsticks in a rub of made with garlic, onion, and turmeric, accented with paprika, chilis, and the sweetness of coconut sugar. Then I pre-heat it with Ninja’s ProConnect app for smoking chicken, set to the factory pre-set, which was super easy-peasy.
Then, I sat in a lawn chair and drank a margarita while it.
But wait – there’s more! About half-way through, clever contraption tells you when to flip your food like some kind of grilling psychic.
It finished its initial cook in about 18 minutes at 350 degrees. I decided to forgo sauce for the first bite so I could get a sense of the flavor.
Oh baby, does that smoky flavor sink right in! My taste buds jumped in the congo-line while devouring those Caribbean-seasoned drumsticks. It was flavor heaven.
I tried the chicken thighs at a lower and slower cook than the setting in the Ninja Proconnect app, cooking them at 250 until they reached 165 degrees using the thermometer. Because the grill was already pretty hot, it only took about 40 minutes. The result was even more tender and juicy, complete with a sort of smoky crispiness to the skin that I left on the outside of the thighs.
After cooking the chicken, I tried out the air frying function on a bag of sweet potato fries. It was simple and self-explanatory. Just nice to have it cooked outside while sipping margs instead of having to go in and turn my kitchen air fryer on.
The following night, I tried strip steaks with the Woodfire™ flavor turned on, waiting for the center to hit 120 degrees before pulling the red meat off with the temp. The result was divine and full-of-flavor, cooked in just a couple of minutes. It was perfectly tender in one flip. A bit of sizzle here and there might cause a raised eyebrow from overzealous steak snobs. But who cares if it tastes good? The smoky goodness from that Woodfire™ flavor is completely different from what you get from cooking a steak in a cast iron grill or air fryers.
Conclusion: The Ninja Woodfire™ Pro Connect XL makes damn fine barbecue.
Can’t wait to see what other masterpieces emerge from future low-and-slow sessions with my new best friend. I’m already looking at recipes for smoked wings for football game days, as well as ribs or a pork butt.
Don’t forget: Use code BRO10 at checkout for 10% off via NinjaKitchen.com
Clean-up is super simple
Cleaning up is the worst part of cooking out. It means the party is winding down. You’re full as a tick at a dog show, you feel the meat sweats oozing out of your pores, and all you can think about is laying around or heading to bed. But you know that you’ll regret not having your equipment properly cleaned for the next session.
Easy clean up is one of the big selling points of the Ninja Woodfire™ Pro Connect XL Outdoor Grill & Smoker for me. In a nutshell, no aggressive scrubbing is required.
A grease trap captures excess grease run off while you cook – all you have to do is pull it out when you’re done and empty it out with a rinse.
Once your cooker is off and cooled down, just pop the non-stick cooking surface off and clean it in your sink with soap and water. When your smoke box is fully burnt out and the pellets are all ash, pop it out, empty it, and give it a rinse too. Just make sure it’s cooled off first! Don’t forget, it still gets very, very hot.
Then put it away for the next function.
Let’s talk uses. I wouldn’t use the Ninja Woodfire™ Pro Connect XL Outdoor Grill & Smoker for tailgating, unless you have a big, reliable power source with you or you tailgate with an RV. I also don’t think it would be practical for camping or picnicking in a park or beach, for the same reason. Remember, you need a way to plug it in and keep it plugged in for the duration of your cook.
It’s perfect for homegating, though. That’s the buzzword people in the food industry use to talk about making football foods at home on the weekends.
I also think you can mess around with the presets in the Ninja ProConnect to have your proteins cooked the way you want. As is, I get the sense that the temperatures and time presets in the app are designed for people who want to cook their meals as quick as possible.
Me? When I’m cooking out on a beautiful Saturday or Sunday afternoon, I got time to kill, baby. I like it low and slow, so I prefer dropping the heat and upping the time to pace dinner appropriately. Fortunately, all this push-button functionality is a breeze.
I also want to make an important note on the pellets for the smoker. It smolders through a half-a-cup of pellets in about 20 minutes, which includes the pre-heat. The hotter it gets, the quicker the pellets burn, it seems. So if you’re smoking a brisket, ribs, or pork butt, which takes more time to smoke properly at lower temperature, you’ll probably have to refill it with pellets a few times throughout the duration of your cook.
I anticipate this taking a little experimentation to do correctly, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.
I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the less I want to do things on hard mode. Modern life is hard enough in itself. Grilling sure doesn’t need to be.
The Ninja Woodfire™ Pro Connect XL Outdoor Grill & Smoker is perfect if you’re looking for an easy solution to satisfy those barbecue cravings, without sacrificing precious outdoor space or dealing with complicated setups. The app makes it easy to control and monitor your food: Never undercooked, never too burnt or dry, and always optimized for the perfect levels of flavor and doneness.
I also love that it’s easy to clean. It also won’t break the bank at $500, like many other pellet grills and smokers out there with similar bells and whistles, but 4x the price tag.
It’d make for an excellent gift for the grill aficionado who wants to simplify their set-up.
Just think for a second about how far we’ve come as a species for something we’ve been doing since the beginning of time. As far as cooking gadgetry is concerned, that’s what blows my mind about Ninja Woodfire™ products: They’re incredible modern solutions to prehistoric behaviors.
If you spring or one, cheers to master an ancient art with a modern twist, making old Ug the Caveman beat his chest with pride and our neighbors just a touch jealous.
Or, be the bigger person and invite ’em on over. That’s the spirit of outdoor grilling, right? The more the merry.
Thanks for reading! Remember, use code BRO10 at checkout for 10% off via NinjaKitchen.com