Instant’s Vortex Plus is a bright and beautiful air fryer that makes cooking everything from chips to breakfast a breeze
- Basket windows and lights let you observe food as it cooks
- Lots of adjustability
- Excellent results
- No recipe booklet/starting guide
- Touchscreen susceptible to scratching
The Instant Vortex Plus is a premium 6-in-1 air fryer launched by Instant Brands, the brains behind the cult favourite Instant Pot pressure cooker. That association alone will be enough to send some people’s expectations soaring, so it’s with some relief that this dual drawer model has proven to be a genuine cut above your average air fryer.
It’s fair to say that it’s an impressive all-rounder. The Vortex Dual drawer has highly adjustable time and temperature settings, a 7.6L capacity split between two drawers, and a slew of other useful features. The most notable of which are the ClearCook see-through basket windows and its bright interior lights, which can be controlled independently.
This fryer’s appeal stretches well beyond its feature list, however, as it combines an easy cooking experience with reliably excellent results time after time.
Instant Vortex Plus Dual Drawer air fryer review: What do you get for the money?
The Instant Vortex Dual Basket will set you back £200 in all-black or £219 for the version with stainless steel accents. With the air fryer, you get two 3.8L non-stick basket-style drawers and two non-stick grill plates for cooking foods such as chicken breast, tofu and bacon. There’s no recipe booklet included but there are detailed instructions on how to navigate the fryer’s settings and touchscreen.
As well as functioning as an air fryer, the Instant Vortex also has settings for roasting, grilling, baking, reheating and dehydrating. You can air fry from 83ºC to 205ºC for up to an hour but temperatures for dehydrating go as low as 35ºC, with a maximum cooking time limit of 72 hours.
The fryer has both a Sync Cook and Sync Finish feature. The former lets you cook two portions on the same setting at the same time, while the latter ensures two different cooking settings finish at the same time. What’s more, each basket can run a different function simultaneously, meaning you can air fry in one basket while you reheat in another.
A digital touch screen on the front allows you to select your chosen program and switch between time and temperature settings but there’s also a small dial that lets you manually adjust these in 1ºC and one minute increments. You can also switch the internal lights on and off via the screen. However, unlike some other models, the Instant Vortex doesn’t come with any preset buttons for common meals.
As well as a sleek touchscreen, the Instant Vortex has a handful of other stylish design features including its clear basket windows and individual lights for each section, allowing you to easily check on your food during cooking. It’s a robust bit of kit for its price too, with strong handles and baskets that don’t feel as though they’re going to break if you pull on them too vigorously.
In fact, it’s similar in size and shape to one of our favourites, the similarly priced Ninja Foodi Dual Zone 7.6L (£200). The Vortex is a little bigger, measuring 38.4 × 40.3 × 31.7cm, but not by much. It also weighs a little less, 7.45kg compared to the Foodi’s 8.2kg. The Ninja is also missing those clear windows, which might be a dealbreaker if you like the idea of checking on your food without having to open the basket and pause the cooking process.
If you’re looking to spend a little less, Instant has a similar dual basket fryer with windows – the Vortx Vizion 9L for £160. The Vizion also comes with bundles of preset cooking functions, something the Instant Vortex is lacking. However, you do sacrifice some usability and build quality due to its less intelligent touchscreen and thinner plastic casing.
Instant Vortex Plus Dual Drawer air fryer review: What’s good about it?
Before I even got to using the Vortex Plus, I was seriously impressed with its gorgeous glossy design and build quality. It’s about on par with the Ninja Foodi Dual Zone in these areas but compared to other air fryers I’ve tested in the £170 and below range, it’s miles better, making those extra few quid well worth spending.
The digital touch screen is highly responsive, one of the best I’ve used in fact, and is easy to navigate once you’ve glanced over the instructions. Another thing I really like about this touchscreen is it not only has a countdown timer but also a preheating progression bar. Moreover, the screen will also alert you to when you need to add and turn food with both a visual prompt and a cheerful auditory cue.
I can’t finish talking about the build and design without mentioning the internal lights. These come on automatically when you open the basket and switch off after a few seconds to save energy, but you can also switch them permanently on during cooking using the buttons on screen, making it really easy to keep an eye on your food during cooking.
When it comes to cooking, it’s fantastic. There’s an excellent temperature range and having the ability to cook different things at once, even on different settings, is a highly useful feature. Cooking times are speedy too. Unlike cheaper air fryer models, the Vortex Plus can cook 500g of homemade chips in around 25 to 30 minutes (depending on preference) at 190ºC, without the need to parboil in a separate pan first. It’s also excellent at cooking other meals too. Chicken breasts came out evenly browned with little oil, while oven foods such as hash browns and nuggets were just as well cooked as they would have been in my oven – just without the lengthy preheat time. I was even able to cook most of a full english breakfast for two people in the fryer, using the air fryer setting to cook hash browns on one side while grilling my sausages and bacon on the other.
When it comes to energy usage, it’s pretty decent too. In tests, the Vortex used just 0.99kw/h at 200ºC with both baskets running on the air fryer setting and 0.55kw/h with a single basket running. Both of these tests were performed with the internal lights switched off and included the fryers two minute preheat time as well. It’s not the lowest kw/h usage we’ve seen from an air fryer but it’s still very energy efficient.
Instant Vortex Plus Dual Drawer air fryer review: What could be better?
There are a couple of small concerns that are worth mentioning. The first of these is that its touch screen is made from a type of soft, glossy plastic which, in my experience, can be susceptible to scratching. This will be more of a concern if you have a high traffic kitchen, or the fryer is in a high traffic area where people are constantly moving things around.
My second concern, albeit a much smaller one, is that the fryer comes with no booklet of starter recipes. The instruction manual does guide you to the Instant Brand website, where there are plenty of recipes but I found it particularly difficult to find what I wanted using the search function. I’m all for cutting down on paper waste, but even a single page within the instruction guide of how to cook some basics such as chips or chicken would add a lot of value for new users.
Instant Vortex Plus Dual Drawer air fryer review: Should you buy it?
When it comes to style and performance, the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Drawer is simply one of the best air fryers you can buy right now. Cook times are speedy, and the results are as good, if not better, than using a conventional oven whether you’re cooking homemade chips or a full English breakfast. It even looks good: while some air fryers are a bulky eyesore, the Instant Vortex Plus looks gorgeous on the countertop, despite its size.
While I do have a couple of very minor quibbles, neither of these diminish how good this appliance is. If your budget can stretch to it, the Instant Vortex Plus is a huge upgrade over cheaper models, and the additional features and all-round quality are well worth paying a premium for.