There are plenty of kitchen gadgets that can make life easier in the kitchen - the best air fryers not only produce crisp fries and chicken wings, they’re also healthier too, as they use far less oil than deep frying.
For wider cooking though, it’s all about the best Instant Pots. They offer a multitude of cooking methods in one device; from slow cooking stews, soups and chillies, to pressure cooking everything from meat on the bone to vegetables, these multi-cookers can speed up creating different types of dishes ensuring you won’t get bored of the same meal every night.
As Instant Pot was the first brand to launch a multi-cooker, it unsurprisingly dominates our list of the best multi-cookers, but the brand also produces some of the best air fryers on the market as well.
So we were excited to get our hands on the Instant Pot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer - a multi-cooker that adds air frying to its exhaustive list of cooking methods. Does this finally mean we could retire our air fryer and save even more space on our kitchen countertop?
Unfortunately not. Here’s what happened when we attempted to make fries in an Instant Pot and compared them to fries cooked in our top air fryer, the Instant Vortex Plus.
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Let's get cooking
To ensure we could really compare the fries made in both kitchen appliances, we made sure we followed the same recipe from Instant Pot’s website (Vortex Plus Skinny Fries if we’ve made your mouth water and now all you can think about is crisp fries).
We used 1lb / 450g of Maris Piper potatoes, which we fed through a chipper to ensure uniformity of the fries. They were then soaked in water for ten minutes, before being dried thoroughly with a dish cloth and tossed in 2 tsp of oil.
We set both the Instant Pot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer and the Instant Vortex Plus to 375 degree F / 191 degree C (the recommended cooking temperature in the recipe) and cooked the fries for 20 minutes in total.
Both the Instant Pot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer and the Instant Vortex Plus remind you to turn the food half way through cooking.
In the Instant Vortex air fryer this is extremely simple - just remove the frying basket using the handle and shake it to turn the fries.
However the Instant Pot has no handle on its air fryer basket - so there’s no way to shake the contents - instead we resorted to a silicone spatula which unfortunately broke-up some of the fries. Useless.
- Want recipe inspiration? Here's what you can cook in an air fryer?
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Once we’d got to the end of the cooking time, we were quite frankly disappointed with the fries from the Instant Pot. Nearly half of the batch were were soggy rather than crisp. If that wasn’t bad enough the browning wasn’t even and the potato inside wasn’t as fluffy. Basically, they were a disaster and I’d feel ashamed to serve them up to friends and family - so they went straight into the bin rather than onto my partner’s plate. I’d rather hear him complain about the size of the portion I’d dished up, than have him refuse to eat soggy, tasteless fries.
As usual, the Instant Vortex Plus turned out a batch of fries that was perfect. Crisp and evenly browned, the fries had fluffy soft potato inside and were so moreish that my other half nearly didn’t get any at all.
It’s clear the Instant Pot can’t compete with the Vortex Plus air fryer when it comes to producing the perfect fry.
This will be in part down to the large area of the frying basket in the Instant Vortex Plus compared to the Instant Pot, as it provides more room for the hot air to circulate around the food to crisp it.
At the same time, the heating element in the Instant Vortex Plus is larger than that in the Instant Pot - meaning there’s a large concentration of hot air too.
While we still think an Instant Pot is an extremely versatile kitchen gadget for fry aficionados, we think an air fryer is still a must-have separate gadget.
- Check out even more of the best Instant Pot deals
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Carrie-Ann Skinner was formerly Homes Editor at TechRadar, and has more than two decades of experience in both online and print journalism, with 13 years of that spent covering all-things tech. Carrie specializes in smart home devices such as smart plugs and smart lights, as well as large and small appliances including vacuum cleaners, air fryers, stand mixers, and coffee machines. Carrie is now a copy editor at PWC.