If you’re looking to indulge in tasty treats such as fries and chicken wings without worrying about the health implications of deep-frying, or just want to speed up cooking times and spend less time slaving over a hot stove, using one of the best air fryers will save you both calories and time.
Instant, the brand behind the Instant Pot multicooker, and Ninja are two of the biggest brands in the air fryer market and both offer an array of basket-style air fryers that circulate hot air around foods to create a crisp, crunchy finish while using minimal oil.
Ninja has marketed a dual-drawer air fryer, the Ninja Foodi 2 Basket (it’s called the Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer in the UK), which lets you cook two different foods at the same time, for a couple of years, and now rival Instant has followed suit with the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Air Fryer (called the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Drawer air fryer in the UK).
Both air fryers are similarly priced: the Instant model will set you back $199.99 / £199.99 (around AU$290) - unfortunately, it’s not currently available in Australia, while the Ninja version costs $179.99 / $199.99 / AU$449.99. So how do they measure up? We pitted the Instant Vortex Plus Dual air fryer against the Ninja Foodi 2 basket air fryer to find out, and to help you choose the right appliance for your kitchen.
With Black Friday just around the corner, you might see these two – as well as other air fryers – offer money-saving discounts. When you've made up your mind about which model to get, be sure to check out those Black Friday air fryer deals.
Best Instant Vortex Dual air fryer and Ninja Foodi Dual Zone air fryer deals
Read on to discover how these two air fryers compare – or, if you’ve already decided which of the two you wish to buy, check out the best prices for each right now:
Compared to the rest of the market, and to other models offered by both Instant and Ninja, these two air fryers are expensive. The premium you pay for dual-drawer functionality means they’re almost double the cost of some single-basket models.
In the US, the Instant Vortex Plus dual air fryer can be picked up for $20 less than Ninja’s offering, and will set you back $179.99, compared to $199.99. However, this price is for the all-black version of the Instant air fryer – if you want the slightly more stylish model that adds a band of stainless steel to the exterior of the air fryer, the rival cookers are identically priced at $199.99.
In the UK both the all-black Instant air fryer and the Ninja cost £199.99, while the stainless steel Instant Vortex Plus Dual Drawer Air Fryer is priced at £219.99.
Both air fryers have the same 8-quart / 7.6-liter capacity. However, Ninja also offers a larger version that can hold up to 10 quarts / 9.5 liters of food, which is called the Ninja Foodi 2 Basket Air Fryer XL in the US and the Ninja Foodi Max Dual Zone Air Fryer in the UK and costs $219.99 / £229.99.
As we’ve mentioned, dual-basket air fryers are more expensive than single-basket models. Instant’s top-of-the-range single basket air fryer, the Instant Vortex Plus Stainless Steel Air Fryer with ClearCook and OdourEase, is priced at $149.99 / £149.99. Similarly, Ninja’s most expensive single-basket design is the Ninja Air Fryer Max XL and will set you back $169.99 / £149.99.
When it comes to design, the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Air Fryer and the Ninja Foodi 2 Basket Air Fryer look slightly different. Both have a larger footprint than a single-basket air fryer, with the Instant air fryer measuring the smaller of the two at 12.5 x 15.9 x 15.11 inches. Although the Ninja model is only slightly larger at 13.9 x 12.8 x 17.1 inches.
Both air fryers have twin baskets, which can be used to cook separate foods, and they have the same 8-quart / 7.6-liter capacity, which is split equally between the two baskets. The baskets feature a crisper plate, which has a number of small holes that allow the hot air to reach every inch of the food’s surface, and the baskets and plate are dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning.
A handy feature of the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Air Fryer, which the Ninja lacks, a plastic window on the front of each basket and a light in the cooking chamber, enabling you to keep an eye on your food while it's cooking without having to open the basket, which immediately reduces the temperature of the cooking chamber, affecting how evenly browned foods are.
As we’ve mentioned, the Instant Vortex Plus Dual air fryer features a glossy black finish, although if you want the more stylish version that includes a chrome accent, you’ll pay $20 / £20 more. The Ninja Foodi 2 Basket Air Fryer comes with the stylish silver accents as standard.
Both air fryers offer touch controls with presets for cooking specific dishes, such as fries, chicken and cake, but also allow you to adjust the cooking temperature and duration if you wish. The Instant Vortex Plus Dual air fryer has a smaller top and an angled fascia on which the controls sit, while the Ninja Foodi 2 Basket air fryer has a more rectangular design, with the controls on the front.
When it comes to air frying, we found the two appliances to be evenly matched, with both turning out crisp, crunchy homemade fries that had soft, fluffy potato inside, and succulent chicken wings that combined juicy meat with a crisp skin.
Both kitchen appliances can roast, bake, reheat and dehydrate as well as air-fry. However, the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Air Fryer has an additional broil function, which is great for cooking burgers for example, whereas the Ninja Foodi 2 Basket Air Fryer has a Crisp Max function, which uses the highest temperature possible to crisp and brown frozen foods.
We found that the Crisp Max function excelled when it came to cooking frozen steak-cut fries, and we were able to turn out a crisp, crunchy batch in 15 minutes in the Ninja air fryer, thanks in part to its ability to cook at temperatures up to 464F / 240-C.
However, with no frozen food program on the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Air Fryer and a maximum cooking temperature of 400F / 205C, we had to spend some time experimenting to get the perfect cooking temperature and duration. After several attempts, we found that a 22 minute cooking time at the maximum cooking temperature achieved the best results for frozen steak-cut fries.
We also found that despite the two air fryers having the same maximum capacities, the Ninja coped better with larger quantities. We were able to cook a 1lb / 450g batch of homemade fries in the Ninja air fryer, and enjoyed evenly browned, crisp, crunchy results. However, when we placed the same quantity of fries in the Instant air fryer we found they were unevenly browned, with some fries uncooked. We achieved the best results when we reduced the quantity to 10.5oz / 300g.
There are some areas when the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Air Fryer excels. It requires less oil than the Ninja air fryer to create a crisp crunchy finish, which is ideal for those looking to keep their calorie consumption down. When cooking homemade fries, we achieved an evenly browned, crunchy finish with 1.5tsp of oil whereas the Ninja air fryer required 2tsp. Similarly, Instant recommends cooking chicken wings without any additional fat, whereas Ninja suggests brushing each wing with oil before cooking.
As we’ve mentioned, the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Air Fryer features a plastic window in each basket so you can check on your food without opening the basket and letting cold air into the cooking chamber. The Instant air fryer also features a shake-reminder function, which provides an audible and visual alert to turn or shake food halfway through cooking. This is important to ensure that every inch of the food’s surface is exposed to the hot air so it can be crisped and browned. Ninja’s air fryer doesn’t offer this.
Both air fryers feature a sync function that lets you cook two different foods at different temperatures and for different durations, automatically starting them at the correct point so that they finish at the same time – ideal if you’re cooking several items for a meal in the air fryer.
When it comes to choosing the best air fryer, both the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Air Fryer and the Ninja Foodi 2 Baket Air Fryer can turn out crisp crunchy fries and chicken wings, and are speedier than using traditional cooking methods.
If you’re looking to keep your calorie consumption as low as possible, or you need a shake-reminder function to ensure food is turned part way through cooking, then the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Air Fryer is the model you should opt for. It’s also the best option if you want to be able to easily check on your food during the cooking process.
However, if you plan to regularly cook frozen foods in the air fryer, we’d recommend choosing the Ninja Foodi 2 Basket Air Fryer, as the Crisp Max functions means you can ensure that frozen foods are crisped and browned to perfection, without the degree of guesswork required by the Instant air fryer.
The Ninja air fryer is also the best model for those who need to regularly cook larger quantities of food, as in our testing it turned out 1lb / 450g of fries that were evenly browned and cooked, whereas the Instant air fryer could only manage this with 10.5 oz / 300g of fries.
- Prefer stews and curries to fries and chicken wings? Then check out the best Instant Pot deals.