Two of the biggest names in air frying are the Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer – from Shark offshoot Ninja – and Instant Vortex Air Fryer – from Instant Pot offshoot Instant Vortex. If you’re mad keen on fried food such as French fries, chicken wings and spring rolls then there’s never been a better or easier way of getting it. We’re not talking about high street takeaways, but about about the air fryer, which you can use at home to make super crispy, perfectly good fried food.
And forget the incredibly tedious deep fat fryer too if that's been your go-to frying appliance up to now. Those greasy and oily contraptions are all but redundant if, instead, you take a look at the best air fryers. Air fryers don’t just fry either; many models can roast, bake and keep food warm amongst other things.
We’ve tried them all here at T3 and have several air fryer favourites. Two prime candidates are the Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer and the Instant Vortex Air Fryer. Both appliances share similarities, but they're also quite different, particularly in terms of size.
However, the key thing about either of these kitchen gadgets is that they serve up copious amounts of 'fried' food, but with the advantage of using next no oil. That should mean healthier eating, while still allowing you to indulge in the crispy, crunchy world of fried cuisine.
Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer vs Instant Vortex Air Fryer: are they just air fryers?
If you’ve got a weakness for fried food then either of our candidates here will certainly fit the bill, but air fryers are more versatile than you might think. Both of these models come with other settings too, so alongside being able to turn out the best crispy and crunchy French fries, these appliances can also be used for other culinary tasks too. Alongside air frying they can roast, bake and reheat food. Both machines are also useful for keeping food warm if you’ve got a dinnertime delay to content with.
The Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer and Instant Vortex Air Fryer can carry out any of these tasks thanks to presets. This means that you’ve got very little to do. Pop in your food, or ingredients depending on the task in hand, press a button or two and that’s about it. Because everything has been pre-programmed the appliance cooks for the allotted time and your food should emerge ready to eat.
Fries are perhaps the best example of this in action, but either of these air fryers can be used in subtler ways. With practice they can also bake items pretty impressively too. Whatever it is you’re cooking there’s always going to be less oil involved, which in the case of frying or roasting is a step towards healthier eating.
With these models your food sits in a baking dish that slides in and out of the appliance. Any oil runs from whatever it is you’re cooking into the bottom of the dish, which can then be drained off and thrown away. Meanwhile, the food that’s higher up is left hot, cooked, crispy and less greasy. The fan and circulating heat of the air fryer makes doubly sure of that. So, both models are more than just air fryers.
Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer vs Instant Vortex Air Fryer: performance
Both the Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer and the Instant Vortex Air Fryer are products from respected brands. Ninja is well known for an excellent portfolio of kitchen appliances, such as blenders, food processors and multi-cookers. The Instant brand is home to the Instant Pot range, which includes the big-selling one-pot cookers that are hugely popular across the US. Therefore, both models come with very decent credentials for performing well.
Specification-wise you get plenty of power from both units, with the combination of an electric element and a beefy fan ensuring that food is cooked fast and evenly in an efficient fashion. Air fryers like these are great in that respect as they reach operating temperature quickly, and can often be a better alternative to switching on your oven.
The additional benefit of these two is that you can select presets for one-touch cooking, or dial in manual settings, for temperature and time. This is a good route to take if you want your food done a specific way.
Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer vs Instant Vortex Air Fryer: how much can they cook?
Most air fryers will be able to cook you a decent portion of French fries or similar, but if you’ve got a family then either the Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer or the Instant Vortex Air Fryer will be ideal thanks to their generous capacity.
The bonus with the Ninja Foodi is that it boasts twin cooking compartments amounting to 7.6 litres capacity in all, which either doubles your capacity or lets you cook two different parts of a dinnertime meal. Think fries in one, meat or fish in the other. Both compartments can be operated independently or synced to work in tandem producing food separately that is ready at the same time.
Meanwhile, the Instant Vortex Air Fryer might not sport two cooking compartments but it makes up for that with plenty of capacity. Indeed, the Vortex boasts a 5.7 litre cooking space, which is still more than enough for a bag of frozen fries, a reasonably sized chicken or a small mountain of mini spring rolls.
That said, both models will need your input when it comes to checking the contents and either moving the contents around or giving things like fries a bit of shake in order to ensure even and consistent cooking. Some appliances like our favourite the Tefal Actifry Genius XL 2in1 has a built-in paddle that does it for you, but it’s the exception rather than the rule.
Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer vs Instant Vortex Air Fryer: are they efficient?
Aside from allowing you to indulge in fried food more frequently thanks to their low or no oil design, the humble air fryer is fast and efficient. In fact, we find that using n air fryer is an increasingly popular alternative to turning on the oven or grill, depending on what it is we’re cooking obviously.
Both the Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer and Instant Vortex Air Fryer can be powered up and reach ready-to-go heat in very little time. It’s certainly faster than our resident oven. Therefore, either model is also super handy for warming up things, like pre-cooked bread rolls for example, but pizza slices also work a treat too.
We've also found that either appliance happens to be a really handy addition to the kitchen when it comes to keeping food warm, or reheating it. If you’ve got a family where rounding everyone up frequently means that food on the plate is, at best, tepid or at worst stone cold then having the convenience of the keep warm or reheat features on these appliances is very useful indeed.
Both machines will probably be on for less time than if you, say, roast a chicken, as the heat they produce is more direct, used in a small area and can be more intense depending on the settings you choose. We’ve found that with practice both these air fryers offer an excellent way to manually adjust cooking times, with less energy likely to be used as a result.
Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer vs Instant Vortex Air Fryer: which one should I buy?
It’s actually pretty difficult to make a call on which of these models you should buy. The Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer and Instant Vortex Air Fryer are both excellent, although the subtle differences between the two might make one more appealing over the other. The Ninja is brilliant because its got the two different compartments, which means you can produce an entire meal in one go, using separate temperature and cooking settings, then combine them right there on your plate.
The slight downside with that is the capacity limitations of the baskets, which means you might need to repeat everything if you need to produce larger portions. Which brings us to the Vortex, which has more than enough capacity for cooking up a storm for families, but lacks the versatility of the twin-basket approach.
Nevertheless, there’s no denying the practicality of both appliances, thanks to their presets and pre-programmable cooking options. Both can be used with manual settings too. And both of them fry food brilliantly, which makes either one an ideal purchase. That said, the Instant Vortex Air Fryer is about half the price of the Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer.