We Tried Instant Pot's New Air Fryer — and Here's What We Think
It's good — like, really good.
This review has been updated since its original publish date in October 2019.
We've tested more than a few air fryers in the Food Network test kitchen and have whipped up enough Instant Pot recipes to consider ourselves experts in both departments. So when we heard Instant Brands came out with an air fryer, we simply had to get our hands on one. And we're so glad we did. If you glean nothing else from this story, the verdict is this: It's a darn good air fryer — and, frankly, it's our new favorite. Anyone in the market for an egg-shaped fryer should buy this one. Here's why.
It's Got Power
The first thing we noticed was the serious cooking power. The Instant Vortex 6-Quart 4-in-1 Air Fryer got food crispier than most of the other air fryers we've tried. Batches of store-bought and homemade fries cooked evenly, quickly and got super crunchy without much hassle. With this power does come some noise. But while this air fryer does make a noticible whirring sound when turned on, it's not louder than a microwave.
The Basket Is Roomy
One of the biggest downsides to many air fryers is the size of the basket. Most only have room for two chicken breasts or a couple of servings of fries (or the teeniest amount of zucchini chips). The Vortex's 6-quart capacity has room for double that. We were able to air fry a whole pound of chicken, as opposed to the usual half-pound other fryers can handle. This means you can cut down on your batch cooking and get your food to the table faster.
The Interface Is Very User-Friendly
Remember the first time you used an Instant Pot? Yeah, this sort of like that, but turned down a notch or two. The Instant Vortex has four pre-programmed settings to air fry, bake, roast and reheat similar to the Instant Pot's seven settings. The caveat here is the Vortex only has eight buttons, four of which are those programs, plus Start, Cancel, Time and Temp. The dial in the center of the screen easily allows you to adjust the temperature in 5-degree intervals and the text is large and easy to read. Even if you're someone who hates reading manuals, we have a feeling you'll be able to figure this one out.
Aesthetics are important to us, and this machine has a sleek, modern look that we wouldn't mind seeing on our countertop every day. We love the shiny black look and have heard that a stainless steel option is dropping soon!
Finally, the Price Is Right
At $99, this air fryer is cheaper than many other models out there with the same capacity and functions. If you use it once a week, its essentially a net cost of less than $2 a week for the whole year.
Bottom line: If you're in the market for an air fryer, this is a solid bet.
What About the Vortex Plus?
While it’s very similar to the 4-in-1 air fryer, the standout feature in the Vortex Plus is the dehydrator. If you’re looking for a reliable air fryer that can also produce perfectly dried fruits and veggies, the Vortex Plus is for you. Just like the 4-in-1, the Vortex Plus has a roomy, 6-quart basket with a nonstick coating for easy cleanup. Equipped with pre-programmed settings and a temperature-controlling dial, the interface is also super user-friendly. The only downside to this model is the broiler function, which is pre-set to 400 degrees F and for two minutes and didn’t perform well for us in testing.