The Instant Vortex Air Fryer is a new addition to the Instant Pot portfolio, a brand that has built up a huge following in the US for its brilliant combi-cookers. This model has been designed for home cooks who are keen to eat healthy while being able to rustle up meals in as little time as possible. Instant Pot cookers offer hassle-free cooking, and by the look of it the Instant Vortex Air Fryer promises the same.
If you’re looking for a bit of background on these great kitchen gadgets then take a look at our best air fryers guide. Incidentally, if you’re reading this in the US then the unit is called the Instant Vortex 6 Quart. Reading in the UK? Then it’s called the Vortex 4-in-1 Air Fryer, just so you know. The appliance is essentially the same and, out of the box it looks like it’s more than ready for business.
- A bigger alternative: Tefal Actifry Genius XL 2in1 review
Instant Vortex Air Fryer: what is it?
The Instant Vortex Air Fryer is another one of numerous kitchen appliances that let you cook healthy food in a variety of ways, by using a fan to blast hot air over a heated element inside the unit. They don't just fry either. In fact, any decent air fryer worth its salt will allow you to air fry, roast and bake, and all by using one machine. The humble air fryer is also mighty handy for heating, and reheating meals too.
Air frying is, by and large, a healthier way to cook as a machine like the Vortex uses less oil, up to 95% in many cases. It employs that efficient fan heat to produce intense performance, which can crisp to perfection. The Vortex works just like that, although comes with a selection of Smart Programs that allow you to not only fry but cook a whole range of other meal options for any kind of dinnertime preference.
With its sizeable 5.7 litre / 6 quart capacity the appliance is tailor-made for families, although the really practical aspect of an air fryer is that it’s handy if you’re eating on your own too. Unlike, say, cooking a plate of fries with vats of oil in a pan, it’s super easy to knock up any size of meal for one or several people. There’s little mess and even less hassle. Hence their growing popularity.
Instant Vortex Air Fryer: is it any good?
Air fryers are almost always judged first on their ability to cook fries, and producing a steaming plate of everyone's favourite is certainly the best way to start testing any new machine. The Vortex certainly boasts plenty of capacity for starters, so copious piles of crispy fries are within easy reach and the 1700W of power produces more than enough oomph for perfect cooking.
Actually, the sizeable basket is able to handle bulky items too, with our model easily accommodating a small chicken for roasting. The trade-off is that the appliance is pretty bulky, so you’ll need space in your kitchen not only for using it but also for storage once it’s cooled down.
The Vortex is ready for use straight out of the box (you’ll want to give it a clean first of course) and cooking some fries makes a great way to explore the features and functions. The interface on the front of the appliance is dead simple to understand, with a collection of idiot-proof buttons that include Air Fry, Roast, Bake and Reheat. Underneath those there are Time and Temp controls, plus a red Cancel and green Start button.
Times and temperatures are displayed on a central screen while a dial below that allows manual adjustments to be made. Audio alerts add a little bit of assistance to proceedings, letting you know when the machine is sufficiently preheated and also giving an indication that you need to add your food. This isn't always necessary though depending on what you’re cooking.
Instant Vortex Air Fryer: Performance
The main requirement for a decent air fryer is obviously the way it cooks your food. For fries we found the Vortex more than able to produce crisp, fluffy potato treats using both frozen and fresh options. The benefit with an air fryer is that it’ll need very little oil to get the job done, and with a few tries we had the Vortex producing plates of fries that were nigh on perfect.
Better still, the great thing about the Vortex is that with practice you can become quite good at tweaking dishes to suit your taste and cooking style. Air fryers, just like conventional ovens, can tend to over or under cook food if you’re not up to speed with how your model works. We found that to be the case with the Vortex, which seems less versatile when you’re using the Bake setting. Keep an eye on it, however, and you can hone this so food is just about right.
Capacity is excellent, with the Vortex serving up substantial meals that served four to five people more than once. However, it’s pretty nifty if you just want to reheat leftovers for one the next day too. Similarly, the Vortex excels at quickly heating things like spring rolls, producing nice and crispy batter on the outside while maintaining the moistness inside. And, as you’d hope, any oil runs off into a detachable tray in the bottom of the pan, leaving your fried food tasting better as a result.
Instant Vortex Air Fryer: verdict
Overall, the Vortex will make a great addition to your arsenal of kitchen appliances, though you’ll need space to accommodate it with those 31.4 x 37.9 x 32.6 cm dimensions. It’s definitely a great replacement for a deep fat fryer for starters.
There’s plenty to love about the Vortex, with its capacity being an obvious boon for families. The range of settings is adequate, rather than extensive, but unless you’re an air frying buff then it’ll be more than suitable for covering all the usual tasks, most notably making French fries.
There’s a bit of noise from the fan during operation, but nothing too intrusive and unsurprisingly, the unit gets hot too. This is always worth bearing in mind if you’ve got it on a countertop. There’s a cooking tray inside the unit, which can be taken out for cleaning, while the rest of the appliance is easy to wipe over when you’re done with it. Because there’s not much in the way of oil in evidence the Vortex is actually very easy to keep clean. That’s always a bonus.
The Instant Vortex has an RRP of just £99.99 / $119.99 and is available via the Instant Pot website or from Amazon. Either way, this is not a lot of money for a very decent air-fryer. Sure, the Instant Vortex has some stiff competition, as you’ll see from our best air fryers guide, but it’s definitely up there with the best of ‘em.