We Put Instant Pot's Air Fryer Lid to the Test
Looking for an air fryer? You need to read this.
By Amanda Neal and Rachel Trujillo for Food Network Kitchen
These days it seems like everyone wants two things: an Instant Pot and an air fryer. Combining two of the most popular kitchen appliances, Instant Pot offers the Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid, which is compatible with the Instant Pot you likely already own. This lid fits onto your Instant Pot’s base, turning it into a mini convection oven that can air fry, roast, bake, broil, reheat and dehydrate. The lid fits most 6-quart Instant Pot models and comes with everything you need to air fry, including an air fryer basket, a broiling and dehydrating tray, protective pad for your counter and a storage cover.
After putting the lid through multiple tests, including pitting it against the Instant Vortex 4-in-1 Air Fryer and the Mealthy CrispLid, we can honestly say we're impressed. Read on to find out how the lid compares to the competition.
How the Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid Works
If you’re used to Instant Pot’s multi-cookers, cooking with this lid will feel pretty comfortable. It doesn’t lock onto the base like the pressure-cooking lid, but you will still get the same musical alert when it is placed on the base correctly. When cooking you won't be able to see into the base of the pot, but you are able to take the lid off to check on the progress of your food mid-way through. The lid is a little heavy (just under six pounds, according to the manual), so you don't have to worry about it moving around during cooking. It's important to note that you cannot turn on the air fryer lid and Instant Pot base at the same time (and the plug has an extra wide surface to ensure you don't make that mistake). Temperature, time and cooking features are all programmed through the lid. Make sure you have a stainless steel inner pot to place the air fryer basket into — the air fryer lid is not compatible with a nonstick ceramic insert.
Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid vs. Instant Vortex 4-in-1 Air Fryer
We put the Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid to the test against the Instant Vortex 6-Quart 4-in-1 Air Fryer (which is Food Network Kitchen’s favorite air fryer). We did a side-by-side comparison of frozen steak fries in the Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid and the Instant Vortex and found similar results and cooking times. The major difference when comparing the Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid to the Instant Vortex comes down to capacity and cook time. Here's a breakdown of how they compare.
The Air Fryer Lid Cooks a Little Faster
The air fryer lid preheated about two minutes faster than the Vortex. Both produced crispy results, but we liked the Vortex slightly more because of the extra browning. The fact that this Instant Pot attachment produced similar (and equally as delicious) results as the Instant Vortex makes a case for not adding a whole new appliance to your collection.
The Instant Vortex Has More Space
The Instant Vortex holds about about 2/3 of a bag of steak fries compared to the lid, which holds about 1/3 of the bag. The air fryer basket for the lid is even smaller than the inner pot of a standard six-quart Instant Pot, which should give you an idea of the limited space you're working with. If you're using your air fryer to cook for a family, the Instant Vortex is the way to go.
Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid vs. Mealthy CrispLid
We put the Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid to the test against the only other air fryer lid on the market right now, the Mealthy CrispLid. We tested frozen French fries and frozen chicken nuggets to compare the two.
They Cook Differently
When testing both air fryer lids against each other, we opted for cooking both French fries and chicken nuggets. The Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid produced more of a convection-cooking atmosphere inside the pot than the Mealthy CrispLid. The Mealthy CrispLid seems to heat from the top-down and acts more as a broiler than a convection cooker. The Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid didn’t require flipping the fries halfway through cooking and we preferred how plump and juicy the chicken nuggets were after cooking. There was a noticeable difference in both texture and shape of the chicken nuggets, and we were impressed that the Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid didn’t dry them out. The Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid did have a longer cooking time because it takes a couple of minutes to pre-heat. The Mealthy CrispLid does not pre-heat and begins cooking right away.
The Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid Wins Out for Design
While we did like that the Mealthy CrispLid is designed with a glass lid so you can see into the pot, the surface got too hot to touch, where the Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid gets warm, but not too hot to touch. The Mealthy CrispLid comes with an elevated trivet and basket that allows the food to sit higher in the pot, which is nice because you don't have to reach into a hot basket to remove the food. That said, this problem is resolved in the deeper Instant Pot air fryer basket by using a set of tongs.
If you're just dipping your toe into the world of air frying, the Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid could be a good option for you. When compared to the other air fryer lid on the market, Instant Pot’s version was our favorite because of how evenly it cooked without drying out the food. If you’re already obsessed with the Instant Pot brand and want to give your pressure-cooked foods like chicken, mac and cheese and veggies a crispy exterior, we think this appliance is definitely worth adding to your cart. However, for anyone looking to cook in larger batches using an air fryer, the Instant Vortex is the better option.