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  • About the Instant Vortex Plus Air Fryer

  • How we tested

  • What we like

  • What we don't like

  • Related content

  • Should you buy the Instant Vortex Plus?

Pros

  • ClearCook window

  • Crisps food well

  • Easy-to-use interface

Cons

  • Lacking manual/recipes

  • OdorErase technology not effective

About the Instant Vortex Plus Air Fryer

This isn't the first line of air fryers to come from Instant. We tested the first edition of the Vortex Plus back in 2019 and had some mixed feelings. But this machine is different.

It features a traditional basket with a handle, an attachable cooking tray, and a sleek touch-screen interface. From there, you can select functions beyond air frying—like roast, bake, dehydrate, reheat, and broil.

But what really sets this apart from similar machines on the market is the ClearCook window (to peek at your food while it's cooking) and OdorErase filters (to reduce food smells in the kitchen).

This model also has a stainless steel exterior, which makes for a sleeker look, and dishwasher-safe accessories.

How we tested

Some air fried Brussels sprouts and chicken and waffles.
Credit: Reviewed / Monica Petrucci

We tried a range of foods in these air fryers to see how they perform.

We put this machine through a wide range of tests to see whether its air frying abilities really impressed us.

First, we tried out the (one and only) Instant-supplied recipe, which was for buffalo chicken bites (sans buffalo sauce, to monitor crispiness). Then we conducted tests for roasted potatoes, Brussels sprouts, crispy bacon, and frozen French fries using the Instant Brands app for guidance on cooking instructions. Finally, we made our own recipe of chicken and waffles to see how the machine would fry chicken and toast frozen waffles.

Throughout the testing process, we also considered elements like the provided manual, clean-up process, and ease of use. We washed the accessories in the dishwasher—as advised—and monitored them for any deterioration or other damages along the way.

What we like

French fries and crisp potatoes.
Credit: Reviewed / Monica Petrucci

Potatoes—in all forms—came out of Instant Vortex evenly crispy.

Even, crispy results

We were satisfied with the crispy, tender results that this machine delivered.

Brussels sprouts came out nicely browned with crispy edges, frozen fries had a decadent crunch and melty interior, and bacon was browned and crunchy without getting burnt. The fried chicken and waffles were especially impressive; my family couldn't believe those chicken thighs hadn't been deep fried when I brought them to the dinner table.

It was easy to achieve tasty results with this air fryer, as long as food was adequately spread out without getting overcrowded (i.e., when we dumped the whole bag of fries in, some crowded clumps were undercooked). But overall, this machine worked effortlessly at roasting, crisping, and heating food.

The ClearCook window for monitoring food

A close up of the ClearCook window.
Credit: Reviewed / Tim Renzi

The ClearCook window allows you to monitor your food as it cooks—without letting heat escape.

Our favorite part of using this air fryer was probably peeking through the ClearCook window.

A lot of the air frying experience—just like cooking in general—is trial and error. When you're trying out your own recipe or heating up something that isn't listed in a recipe book or app, you often have to use your best judgment and cross your fingers.

What simplifies this process is the ClearCook window and internal lights. Whenever we were worried about chicken overcooking or fries getting too brown, we could use the light button to illuminate the inner basket. From there, we could determine whether we wanted to take the food out early, add more time to the recipe, or just stare longingly at it until the timer beeped.

The interface is easy to use

The Instant Vortex's front panel.
Credit: Reviewed / Tim Renzi

Navigating the Vortex's home screen was a breeze from the very beginning.

It's easy to get intimidated by appliances that have touch screens instead of traditional buttons; they often make navigation more complicated. But we found the opposite experience with this machine.

The touch screen is sleek and easy to use. We didn't even have to read the manual to learn how to navigate between cooking mode, time, and temperature settings. The dial also moves smoothly and is fast for navigating minutes and temperature degrees, compared to holding down a button.

There's an accompanying app with lots of recipes

The Instant App recipe page.
Credit: Reviewed / Monica Petrucci

The Instant app has recipes organized by appliance, so you can explore countless air fryer dishes

Although the manual doesn't provide much when it comes to sample recipes or cooking recommendations (more on that later), the Instant Brands app does. It houses countless Vortex Air Fryer recipes—from the basics like crispy broccoli to more unique ideas like Greek tomato fritters. (Just be cautious that "Vortex Air Fryer" may not refer to this exact model.)

It's a user-friendly app that allows you to search for recipes or browse according to whatever Instant appliance you have in your home. Once you "Start Cooking," it guides you through the cooking process step-by-step with no room for confusion. You can also "heart" or share a recipe to save it for later use.

What we don't like

Air fried chicken.
Credit: Reviewed / Monica Petrucci

The crispy chicken recipe provided with the appliance came out soggy and underwhelming.

The manual is lacking

For anyone who doesn't have access to the Instant Brands app? It's going to take a lot of trial and error to learn how to cook in this air fryer.

The manual that comes with the machine provides no chart or guidance for popular air fried foods, like frozen food, proteins, or veggies. Instead, there were only instructions for setting up the machine and navigating the different features. And only one recipe was sent with the machine, for buffalo chicken bites. (We tried the recipe without buffalo sauce to monitor the crispiness of the chicken, and were very disappointed with the results.)

There aren't presets built into the machine either, like a shortcut button for standard recipes like French fries. We had to do some digging in the Instant app in order to cook certain foods with appropriate time and temperature settings.

OdorErase technology isn't very effective

One of the key elements of this model is that it features a replaceable OdorErase filter, which is designed to reduce lingering cooking smells in the kitchen. We were excited about this feature, since we've noticed air frying smells—especially when it comes to greasy foods like fries—tend to overtake the kitchen and linger for a while.

Unfortunately, we didn't notice much of a difference with this air fryer. Cooking foods like bacon and fried chicken imparted a significantly strong smell in the kitchen (and surrounding rooms). When we were using the machine, passersby by would immediately ask, "what's that smell?" We took that as a bad sign.

The Instant Vortex Plus XL Dual doesn't perform as well

Air fried Brussels sprouts.
Credit: Reviewed / Monica Petrucci

The Brussels sprouts cooked in the XL Dual had significantly inferior, undercooked results compared to the singular model.

When it came to testing the XL Dual model, we experienced similar results to the singular Vortex Plus model—with some disappointing differences.

While the double basket feature makes it easy to cook two recipes simultaneously, we found that the food didn't come out as crispy as it did in the original Vortex Plus.

Brussels sprouts were tough, fries were soft, and potatoes didn't brown after cooking in the time and temperature recommended by the Instant Brands app. With almost every recipe I tried—while results worked well for the single-basket Vortex—we had to increase the cooking time in this machine.

If there had been a helpful manual included with the XL Dual, with appropriate and accurate cooking instructions, this air fryer would have been a home run. Its easy-to-use interface makes it easy to roast potatoes and air fry chicken at the same time (and have them ready at the same time, thanks to the SyncFinish feature).

The SyncCook feature is also an easy shortcut to use when using both baskets to make the same recipe.

Of course, double baskets means more counter space is required for this machine. And even though there are two separate cooking vessels, they're not large capacity. Each basket can only hold up to four quarts—so keep that in mind when filling them up. (You may have to break recipes up into two batches to ensure they'll crisp to your liking.)

Related content

Should you buy the Instant Vortex Plus?

An Instant Vortex air fryer.
Credit: Reviewed / Tim Renzi

The Instant Vortex Plus is a solid air fryer choice, as long as you're willing to do some recipe research.

Yes, if you're willing to experiment with recipes

If you're new to the world of air frying, you might find it difficult to dip your toes in with either of these air fryers. There's no time and temperature guidance for popular air fried meals included. And if you're looking for recipe inspiration, you'll need your smartphone closeby.

You also shouldn't take the leap with this product if its main appeal to you is the OdorErase filter, since that feature doesn't perform as well as we anticipated.

However, if you're up for the challenge of researching and experimenting with air frying recipes—and love the idea of peeking at your food while it's cooking—the Instant Vortex Plus is a great choice. It performed well in crisping some of our favorite air fried foods (after some trial and error) and has a navigation touch screen that's fun and easy to use.

Not sold yet? Check out some of the best air fryers we've tested to browse other great options.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

Meet the tester

Monica Petrucci

Monica Petrucci

Senior Staff Writer, Kitchen & Cooking

@monicatpetrucci

Monica is Reviewed's senior Kitchen & Cooking staff writer and an avid home cook. A graduate of Emerson College, she's had her work published in The Boston Globe, Culture Cheese Magazine, Modern Luxury, and more. In her spare time, you can find her experimenting in the kitchen, practicing yoga, or falling down a TikTok rabbit hole.

See all of Monica Petrucci's reviews

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