A few weeks ago, I was napping with QVC on (it’s great to nap to), and happened to wake up in time to see the Ninja Kitchen System Pulse. I’ve had the Ninja Master Prep for a couple years now, and it’s nice, but shortly after I got it they came out with the 3-blade version, so I’ve had blade envy (the two blades in mine never seem to reach everything). And with all the baking I’d been doing this winter, I kept thinking it would be nice to have something other than a hand-held mixer. This set was on special, so I went ahead and ordered it.
The main difference between this and the Master Prep is that they’ve gone to a more traditional blender/food processor design, with the motor in the base and a pitcher or bowl that sits on top. But there are no buttons on the base. The only thing the Ninja does is pulse, and you do this by pressing down on the lid of the container you’re using. This set comes with a couple different options:
- A pitcher with corresponding top and storage lid, and blades
- A bowl with corresponding top and storage lid, and blades
- Two 16-oz cups you can blend in, with sipping lids; one cup-sized blade
- Two discs with different slicing/grating/shredding options for the food processor
- Dough paddle (for mixing)
- Dough blade (for kneading)
I wanted to try it out right away. Here’s the things I’ve done so far:
- Slicing: I ran an apple through using the slicing disc on the food processor bowl. It was really fast! And made perfect, even slices. The down-side is that you have to cut things into small enough pieces to fit into the slot on the food processor lid. (A quarter of an apple fit perfectly.) So if I were just doing one apple, and I already had the knife out, I’d probably just go ahead and cut the thing myself, rather than dirty the whole Ninja. But if, like GG suggested, I was slicing up a bunch of apples like for apple pie, this would make it go really quickly. I also used it to quickly and evenly slice up a bunch of bell peppers for fajitas. I don’t mind slicing, but I had so much to do, this made it go much faster.
- Shredding: I used the shredding disc on the food processor to grate a bunch of cheese for making mac and cheese. Last time I made this meal, I grated 1 1/2 big blocks of cheese with my box grater, but this made it so easy – just shoved it in, and ended up with a couple buckets full of shredded cheese. This was pretty soft block cheddar, but it went through the food processor just fine. The only problem was that a couple little chunks of cheese ended up getting caught in the nooks and crannies of the lid. To just do a little cheese it wouldn’t be worth it, but to save me 15 minutes of grating time, it worked well.
- “Snow” and Smoothies: One of the features they talk about a lot is the Ninja’s ability to crush ice into “snow.” And something I’ve used my previous Ninja for is to make smoothies with frozen fruit and milk (and whatever else – cram some spinach in there, you’ll never taste it!). So I crushed up some ice cubes, and yes, it made pretty nice snow. It wasn’t 100% even, there were some bigger bits here and there, but for the most part it was very good. To my snow, I added some frozen strawberries and peaches, and a little milk, and ended up with a very nice smoothie.
- Single-Serve Cup: I made a breakfast smoothie in one of the cups, which turned out great. I put in a single ice cube first, and ground it up into “snow.” Then added my fruit, milk, and honey, and blended everything together. The cup actually sits upside-down on top of the base, and you press on the cup to make it blend. There was no leakage or anything. I could have switched to a sippy lid and drank straight from the cup, but I transferred mine to a glass, so I can’t speak to the quality of the lids. I wouldn’t call them “travel” lids, though, because they don’t seal shut completely – there is a little opening to drink out of.
- Mixing: This was the last thing I was waiting to try before posting this review, and it was a little disappointing. I used the dough paddle to mix cake batter (which is on the list of things you can mix), but I would have gotten better results just stirring it in a bowl myself. I feel like a lot was wasted because it got stuck up in the lid of the bowl, or in the little slots of the mixing paddle. The parts that did pour out of the bowl were well-mixed, but it wasn’t worth the time and effort of scraping out all the little bits that got stuck everywhere. I may try this again the next time I make cookie dough, but for just regular mixing of boxed cake mix, I don’t recommend the Ninja.
Based on my experience with this and my other Ninja, here are my main tips:
- Be gentle. Both of these basically work by interlocking plastic gears to attach the components to the motor. If you’re rushing and just cram it together, you’ll strip those gears and break it. So take your time and make sure everything is assembled correctly.
- Start with quick pulses until it seems like everything is pretty well blended/chopped. Then you can do longer and longer pulses to smooth it all out. If you just do a long pulse from the beginning, half the stuff in your bowl won’t get chopped.
- Blend similar-textured things together. If you’re doing ice, crush the ice first, then add your other ingredients.