Instant is a relative newcomer to the air fryer market, having launched its first model in 2019. The brand first appeared in 2010, unveiling the Instant Pot multicooker, and has quickly become one of the must-have brands in this space. Its top-of-the-range Instant Vortex Plus tops our list of the best air fryers you can buy.
Now it's overhauled its most expensive air fryer to offer a dual-zone version that lets you cook two different foods at once, while also ensuring cooking times can be synced so that both are ready at the same time.
Just like every other air fryer on the market, the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Drawer Air Fryer, which is known as the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Air Fryer in the US, circulates hot air around food to cook it, creating a crisp, crunchy finish. Instant claims food cooked in its air fryers requires 95% less oil than deep frying. Both drawers of the air fryer also feature a ClearCook window, which when coupled with the light inside of the cooking cavity, enable you to keep an eye on food without having to open the drawer and interrupt the cooking cycle.
The two drawers of the Instant Instant Vortex Plus Dual Drawer Air Fryer offer a 3.8-litre / 4-quart capacity, for 7.6 litres / 8 quarts in total, which Instant says is sufficient for eight portions. This makes this model the largest air fryer Instant offers. As well as air frying, this kitchen gadget can also roast, bake, grill, dehydrate and reheat food. It comes sporting a new angular design, with a smaller dial for adjusting the temperature and cooking duration.
Slightly larger than the Instant Vortex Plus, but not as bulky as its closest rival, the Ninja Foodi Max Dual Zone Air Fryer AF400UK, we found the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Drawer Air Fryer did an excellent job of evenly browning fries and chicken wings. However, with no cooking charts or guidance in the instructions, using it will require a degree of experimentation.
At £199.99 / $179.99, it’s the most expensive air fryer Instant offers; but for those who want to prepare two dishes at the same time, it’s worth the investment.
Instant Vortex Plus Dual Drawer Air Fryer price and availability
- List price: £199.99 / $179.99
The Instant Vortex Plus Dual Drawer Air Fryer, which is known as the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Air Fryer in the US, costs £199.99 / $179.99 and is available from Instant direct or through Amazon. This model sports a glossy all-black finish; however, it also comes in an option with stainless steel accents, which is priced at £219.99 / $199.99. This model isn’t currently available in Australia.
The air fryer's predecessor, the Instant Vortex Plus continues to be available worldwide, including Australia. It has a slightly smaller 5.7-litre / 6-quart capacity and is priced at £119.99 / $119.95 / AU$269.
- 7.6-litre / 8-quart capacity
- Angular design with touch controls
- Can switch between C or F for cooking temperature
The larger capacity of the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Drawer Air Fryer means it takes up slightly more countertop space than the Vortex Plus, measuring 31.7 x 40.3cm x 38.4cm /12.5 x 15.9 x 15.11 inches (h x w x d). However, as we’ve already mentioned, it isn’t as bulky as some other dual-zone air fryers on the market.
It comes with a new look, too. Its cuboid shape makes way for a more angular look, with the touch controls positioned closer to the top of the air fryer. The dial to adjust the cooking temperature and duration is slightly smaller here. Unfortunately, while at first glance the glossy black finish looks stylish and smart, it didn’t remain looking that way for long. It’s prone to picking up greasy fingerprints, and so will need to be regularly cleaned with a damp cloth.
As well as air fry, the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Drawer Air Fryer can roast, bake, grill, reheat and dehydrate. The air fryer has a total capacity of 7.6 litres / 8 quarts, which is split evenly across the two frying baskets. The front of the baskets feature a built-in plastic window, which, along with a light in the cooking cavity, ensures you can see how cooking is progressing. For easy cleaning, both the baskets and the crisper plates that sit inside them are dishwasher-safe – an improvement on its predecessor, where only the crisper plate could be cleaned in the dishwasher.
Cooking temperature ranges from 35 C / 95 F to 205 C / 400 F for up to 72 hours at a time – although the latter is at lower temperatures. At its maximum temperature, the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Drawer Air Fryer can cook for up to one hour. It’s also possible to adjust the cooking temperature in one-degree increments, compared to the three-degree increments offered by the Instant Vortex Plus. You can even switch between F and C for the cooking temperature.
When it comes to cooking duration, you can set each basket to complete cooking independently, or utilize the sync feature that stalls the basket with the shorter cooking time so that the two zones complete at the same time.
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. There’s also no cooking chart or guides, which means some experimentation over the ideal cooking temperature and time will be required. This is especially true when cooking frozen foods, to ensure you can cook them to your liking.
- Crisp, evenly browned results
- Check on food with the help of window and light
- Requires some experimentation
The Instant Vortex Plus Dual Drawer Air Fryer has a bigger overall capacity than its predecessor, the Instant Vortex Plus, but each frying basket can hold only 4 quarts / 3.8 litres. Without any cooking charts or guides in the box, it was clear that we’d need to experiment with cooking temperatures and durations to ensure food was cooked perfectly.
We started with 450g / 1lb frozen steak cut fries in basket one, using the default air-frying settings: 196 C / 385 F for 15 minutes. Usefully, the air fryer automatically preheats for three minutes once a time and temperature has been selected, while also offering a visual and audible prompt to add food when it reaches temperature.
Once the cooking time had finished, however, it was clear the fries weren’t cooked to our liking – they were pale and soggy, with some still raw in the center. So we added a further three minutes to the cooking time. Frustratingly, the air fryer goes through the automatic preheat again, in effect pushing cooking time to an additional six minutes. However, the fries still weren’t crisp and crunchy enough, so we added a further two minutes (five with the preheat). The fries still weren’t properly cooked,, in spite of the additional time, so it was clear this wasn’t going to be a success, so we abandoned cooking.
For the next batch we raised the temperature to 204 C / 400 F (the same temperature for cooking chicken wings in the air fryer) and the duration to 15 minutes, but when the cooking time had come to an end, the fries still weren’t cooked through. We added another four (seven, including the preheat) but this still didn’t achieve the desired crunch and level of browning we were looking for.
It became apparent that the air fryer couldn’t cope with the usual quantity, so we reduced the batch to 300g / 10.5oz. This time the fries were spread across the frying basket in one layer, rather than being piled on top of each other as they were with the larger quantity. After 18 minutes, the results were evenly browned and crisp fries, with soft fluffy potato inside.
We fared better with chicken wings. Although 450g / 1lb of chicken wings was too much to arrange in one layer in the frying basket , they weren't as tightly packed as the fries, and the hot air was able to circulate better. They didn’t require any additional oil and following 21 minutes of cooking, we were presented with succulent wings with crisp, evenly browned skin.
When it came to homemade fries, we used our experience with the steak cut fries, placing only 300g / 10.5oz in the frying basket. We used 1.5tsp of oil, which is what the recipe called for. This time we set the air fryer to 191 C / 376 F for 20 minutes, the suggested cooking time for homemade fries in the Instant app. Once the cooking time had passed, the potato batons had been turned into crunchy, evenly browned fries that were soft and fluffy inside.
We also noted that when tipping out fries once they were cooked, the crisper plate didn’t fall out – something that regularly happened during testing of the Instant Vortex Plus.
Both frying baskets can be used at the same time. It’s possible to cook food at varying temperatures for a different duration in each drawer, while also ensuring that cooking completes at the same time, with the Sync Finish feature.
We were impressed by the ClearCook windows and light, which meant we could monitor cooking, checking just how brown our food was getting. Also useful was the reminder to shake function, which provides an audible and visual prompt to shake or turn the food so the hot air can reach every inch of it.
We didn’t get round to baking in the air fryer during testing, but we did note that instructions state that only metal or glass containers can be used with the bake setting. In addition, when placed in the air fryer there must be 2.5 cm /1 inch of space around said container. However, none of the our three most-used baking tins (an 8-inch circular tin for Victoria Sandwich cakes, a 1lb loaf tin and a 8-inch square brownie pan) would fit in either drawer of the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Drawer Air Fryer, let alone ensuring the required amount of space around them. As such, it’s unlikely we’d use the air fryer to bake.
Should I buy the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Drawer Air Fryer?
Buy it if...
You want to cook different foods at the same time
The two separate frying drawers of the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Drawer Air Fryer ensure you can cook two different foods at the same time, while the Sync Finish feature means they’ll be ready at the same time, too.
You want to keep an eye on food during cooking
The ClearCook windows let you check on the cooking progress of food, without having to open the frying drawer, which would affect the stability of the temperature in the cavity. The light makes it easier to view contents, too.
You want versatility
As mentioned, the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Drawer Air Fryer can do more than just air fry: it can roast, grill, bake, reheat and dehydrate as well. If you’re looking for one appliance that can do it all, rather than purchasing single-use kitchen gadgets, this is it.
Don't buy it if...
You’re on a budget
At $179.99 / £199.99, this is the most expensive air fryer Instant offers. If you’re on a tight budget then consider the Instant Vortex Plus, which has fewer cooking functions and only one frying drawer, but is considerably more affordable.
You cook large quantities
The Instant Vortex Plus Dual Drawer Air Fryer has an overall capacity of 7.6 litres / 8 quarts, but each drawer can hold a maximum of only 3.8 litres / 4 quarts. You’ll struggle to cook large quantities of different foods at the same time in this air fryer. If this is a requirement, consider the Ninja Foodi Max Dual Zone Air Fryer AF400UK instead, which has drawers that can hold 4.75 litres / 5 quarts each.
You want to use the air fryer to bake
While this air fryer does have a bake function, the smaller drawer size and the fact you must leave 2.5cm / 1 inch of space around baking tins means it won’t be the most effective air fryer for baking. Instead consider the Instant Vortex Plus, which has one larger drawer and can accommodate common-sized baking tins.
First reviewed: January 2022
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