Instant Pot is known for its combi-cooking gadgets, and the Vortex Air Fryer – it's called the Vortex 6 Quart in the US, and the Vortex 4-in-1 in the UK – is the latest addition to its line of air fryers. With a 5.7-liter capacity, this sizable kitchen appliance is designed to deliver super-crisp, juicy food in a fraction of the time it would take in a conventional oven.
Unlike the best Instant Pots, the brand's air fryers don't offer pressure cooking or slow cooking functions, but you can use preset Smart Programs to air-fry, roast, bake and reheat in an instant, helping you to say goodbye to wasted oil and lingering frying smells, and hello to a safer, healthier way of cooking at home.
Instant Vortex Air Fryer price and availability
The Instant Vortex 6 Air Fryer is currently available directly through Instant Pot’s website, and from Amazon and other retailers, with an RRP of £99.99 / $119.99 – see below for today’s best prices where you are.
Design and key features
- Square basket
- Easy-to-clean tray
- Large capacity
Air fryers work by combining just a little oil with air that’s quickly raised to roasting temperatures to produce the crunchy texture you’d otherwise need a traditional deep-fat fryer to achieve. By cooking foods so quickly, an air fryer is able to ensure that they're crisp on the outside but moist on the inside, using only a fraction of the oil that’s required for conventional roasting or frying.
If you’re accustomed to cooking such foods in the oven, you’ll also find the results from an air fryer far more succulent than those cooked in an oven, which can easily dry out food by the time it’s heated it all the way through.
A key design difference between the Vortex and other models is its 5.7-liter / 6-quart square basket, as opposed to the smaller circle or oval baskets in other air fryers; Instant Pot boasts that it offers enough space to cook a small chicken. The square shape of the Vortex also ensures that you can make the most of every inch of space on your countertop, and that you can fit more into the tray, which is big enough to feed a whole family.
Note, though, that at around 32cm high and 30cm wide this is a relatively bulky appliance, so if you don’t have enough room to keep it on a countertop you’ll need to store it away when it’s not in use.
The touchscreen and dial are intuitive to use, with no confusing options or over-complications. Each time you air fry, the machine sends out an alert once it’s preheated, and when it’s time to turn the food – but you can also ignore the latter if you’re cooking for 1-2 people, since smaller quantities of food cook far more evenly as a result of the circulated air.
The only fault we could find with the Vortex is that the settings for roasting and baking are restricted to very specific items – don’t expect to bake a wide range of items here. A roasted butternut squash came out beautifully crisp after half an hour, but cinnamon rolls cooked on the Bake setting were far too crisp. There are cooking tips available for the Vortex Air Fryer online and via Instant's recipe app, but we'd have like to see more guidelines on baking and roasting times included with the appliance itself.
The removable cooking tray inside the basket has a tendency to fall out when you’re serving food, although this also means it's easy to remove and clean between uses.
- Claimed to use up to 90% less oil than frying or roasting
- Super-fast for processed foods such as oven chips and potato waffles
- Makes leftovers crisp and succulent
We were keen to see if the Vortex Air Fryer really could cut down on the amount of oil we used for cooking, and it didn’t disappoint – certainly with potato wedges, for example. Whole baskets of food required only a tablespoon of oil for a wonderfully crispy texture. Helpfully, the cooking tray drains off any excess oil, so our food didn’t soak up any more oil once the cooking time was complete.
In a conventional oven, it’s difficult to monitor food once cooking is underway, especially at high temperatures; opening the oven to check on progress reduces the temperature inside, adding extra cooking time. The Vortex is a more compact appliance, thus there’s less space to heat, and as a result keeping an eye on cooking time and temperature was easier, and we never needed to add on extra cooking time as a result of fluctuations in temperature.
Noise is a concern for many people who are considering buying an air fryer, but while the Vortex does make a whirring sound while running, the noise is at a similar level to that of an extractor fan; and since cooking times rarely exceed 20-30 minutes, it isn’t something that would put us off using one.
And if the Vortex’s many talents described above aren’t enough, it makes heating and cooking many processed foods super-easy, too – everything from spring rolls to leftover chips, cheese toasties, roti and arancini. While an air fryer can’t cook foods typically drenched in batter that would usually be deep fried, it works a treat with foods that are high in oil content but aren’t wet on the outside.
In fact, it made us realize how much oil there is in everyday foods such as chip-shop chips and potato waffles, which all emerged crisp and succulent after only a few minutes in the fryer.
If the health benefits of reduced oil consumption aren’t enough, you’ll no longer have to deal with the cooking smells that can linger for days after deep-frying food, nor any leftover oil. And for those with children, the Vortex is safer to have on a kitchen counter than an appliance that uses hot oil.
Should I buy the Instant Vortex Air Fryer?
Buy it if…
You want to cut down the time you spend in the kitchen
The Vortex 6 is brilliant at ‘set it and forget it’ cooking – you can put your food in to cook for 15 or 20 minutes, no monitoring required. If you’ve previously deep-fried food with an open pan, or had to monitor food cooking at high temperatures in the oven, cooking with the air fryer is far easier.
You’re cooking for a family and need easy dinners
The Vortex makes cooking for 4-5 people super-simple, thanks to its square shape and the speed of cooking. While this is by no means an appliance for bulk cooking, you’ll find those weeknight meals are quicker to whip up with the Vortex.
Don't buy it if…
You’re short on counter space
The Instant Vortex will take up a fair chunk of countertop space. At around 32cm high and 30cm wide, it’s a relatively bulky appliance, so you might want to consider whether you have room to keep it on a kitchen counter, or somewhere to store it when it isn’t in use.
You want markedly different settings on your air fryer
While this machine is brilliant at air frying and reheating, we couldn’t see a difference in the food we tested for roasting or baking. We’re told we can use this for baking everything from cinnamon rolls to mini pizzas, but the results weren’t the same as an oven-bake.
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