Instant’s most expensive air fryer to date does an excellent job of air-frying everything from chips to chicken wings. Its 6-quart / 5.7-liter capacity, and the fact that it can now grill and dehydrate as well as bake, roast and reheat, justify the hefty price tag – you won’t know how you coped without it.
Excellent crisp, evenly browned results
Easy to clean
Bulky and takes up a lot of countertop space
Basket isn’t dishwasher-safe
Reheat function can’t replace a microwave
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Instant is known for its kitchen appliances that offer several methods of cooking in one device, such as the Instant Pot range, and its latest addition is the Vortex Plus 6-in-1 Air Fryer (it's called the Vortex Plus 6 Quart in the US). It looks slightly more stylish than Instant Pot’s current air fryer, with a brushed stainless steel rather than a black plastic exterior, but it’s not only its design that’s been upgraded.
As well as air-fry, roast, bake and reheat, it can also grill and dehydrate, making it even more versatile than its smaller sibling, the Instant Vortex. The Vortex Plus has a 6-quart / 5.7-liter capacity, which Instant claims is large enough to hold a 4lb / 1.8kg chicken, or 2.2lb / 1kg of fries.
The best air fryers circulate hot air around the food in the frying basket so it cooks quicker than traditional methods, but is crisp too and the Vortex Plus is no exception. Air fryers use considerably less oil when crisping food – Instant claims you need 95% less oil – so they offer a healthier way to enjoy foods that would usually be deep fried, without compromising on the taste.
There are six presets that offer default lengths and temperatures, although you can adjust the defaults as you see fit using the dial on the front of the air fryer’s control panel. Once you’ve adjusted the time and temperature on these presets to achieve the results you want, you can then save the changes to the memory to create your own custom presets, so there’s no need to adjust the program every time.
Instant Vortex Plus price and availability
- List price $119.95 / £119.99 / AU$269
The Instant Vortex Plus is priced at $119.95 / £119.99 / AU$269, and is available worldwide from Instant’s website; it’s also available through Amazon in the US and Australia.
This is $30 / £20 / AU$40 more expensive than Instant Pot’s original air fryer, the Instant Vortex. However, as we’ve already mentioned, the Vortex Plus offers an extra two cooking methods so the price hike is understandable.
- Large 6-quart / 5.7-liter capacity
- Crisper tray is dishwasher-safe
- Bulky design requires plenty of countertop space
The Instant Vortex Plus is by no means a compact air fryer, measuring 12.83 x 14.92 x 12.36 inches / 32.6 x 37.9 x 31.4 cm (h x w x d). However, its large footprint means an equally large capacity of 6 quarts / 5.7 liters, and thanks to its multitude of cooking methods – as we’ve mentioned it can now grill and dehydrate as well as air-fry, roast, bake, and reheat – you should be able to consign a few of your other kitchen gadgets to the cupboard, so countertop space shouldn’t be an issue.
The Vortex Plus retains the square shape of the Instant Vortex Air Fryer, including the square basket and dishwasher-safe crisper tray, but builds on this with a brushed stainless steel finish, although it’s not as fingerprint-resistant as you might hope.
It has the same touchscreen too, but with six presets rather than four. There are also buttons for time and temperature, alongside a stainless steel dial, all of which are easy to clean, as they can be wiped with a damp cloth. The air fryer can reach a maximum temperature of 400F / 205C and can cook for up to one hour, that ensuring you’ll be able to prepare a huge variety of dishes.
The air fryer doesn’t come with a recipe booklet – instead you’ll need to go online, or use the Instant app for your smartphone or tablet, for inspiration. However, when we searched for recipes, it took us some time to find those that were designed for the air fryer rather than for Instant’s other kitchen gadgets such as its Instant Pot multi-cookers. We’d have liked to see an included booklet that gave us instant access to a handful of dedicated air fryer recipes.
- Evenly browned crisp results for both fries and chicken wings
- Handy reminder to turn the food halfway through cooking time
- Exterior casing remains cool to the touch
We were impressed with the Instant Vortex Plus’s cooking capabilities. Both home-made fries, which needed just 2tsp of oil for a 1.1lb / 500g batch, and chicken wings came out evenly browned in under 20 minutes. The fries had crisp exteriors that offered a satisfying crunch when bitten, with fluffy, soft potato inside. Similarly, the chicken wings had crisp skin, but the meat remained succulent. We used the suggested temperature and timings from the Instant Pot app, and in our opinion that wasn’t any need to tweak them, as the results were on point.
Like other air fryers, the Instant Vortex Plus really does speed up cooking times, with the chicken wings taking almost half the time they would take in a conventional oven. We also cooked 1.1lb / 500g of frozen steak-cut fries in the air fryer, and while they weren’t as crisp as the homemade fries, they were evenly browned and ready within 15 minutes, just under half the recommended cooking time for a conventional oven.
The air fryer provides an audible and visual alert once it’s pre-heated and it’s time to put the food in the basket, and another alert at the half-way point, so that you can turn or shake food as required to ensure it's evenly browned.
As expected, the Instant Vortex Plus makes an extractor-fan like noise during cooking; however this only measured 64db on our decibel meter, which is similar to the noise a dishwasher makes mid-cycle. The sound does only run for the length of cooking time, and for most dishes that’s around 20 to 30 minutes, and we think it’s an acceptable level to deal with in this short time period. The casing remained cool to the touch during use too.
Should I buy the Instant Vortex Plus?
Buy it if...
You want versatility
As we've already mentioned, the Instant Vortex Plus can do more than just air-fry: it can roast, grill, bake, reheat and dehydrate too. If you’re looking for one device that can do it all, rather than purchasing single-use kitchen gadgets, this is it.
You want to cut down the time you spend in the kitchen
With fries and chicken wings taking less than 20 minutes, the Instant Vortex Plus really does cut down cooking time, and the audible alerts mean you don’t have to stand over the appliance to check if the food needs turning or not.
You’re cooking for a family
With such a large capacity, the Instant Vortex Plus is the ideal air fryer to feed several hungry mouths in one go.
Don't buy it if....
You’re on a budget
This is one of the most expensive air fryers on the market. While it gives crisp, succulent results and is extremely versatile, if you’re on a budget opt for an air fryer from GoWise in the US or Tower in the UK, which are more affordable.
You’re short on space
The Instant Vortex Plus is a bulky device, and takes up a fair amount of countertop space. Its size also means that storing it away in a cupboard after every use might not be practical, so you might want to consider whether you have room for it before you buy.
You want a reheat function to replace your microwave
The reheat function does a good job of turning limp leftovers back into crisp, appetizing meals, but it can’t replace a microwave completely, as it can’t heat ready meals or melt butter for example.
- Check out more of the best air fryer deals
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.