Fact: If it weren't for my Instant Pot, my dinners would mostly consist of toast, frozen pizza, or a bowl of Lucky Charms (a.k.a I'm a 27-year-old with the food preferences and cooking abilities of a five-year-old). The trendy multicooker has a cult following—myself included—and for good reason.
And now, there's exciting news for the Instant Pot-obsessed among us. The brand just released its own air fryer, the Instant Vortex Plus 7-in-1 Air Fryer Oven. Available exclusively at Walmart for now, the appliance is Instant Pot's foray into the world of air frying, the cooking trend beloved for making healthier fried food.
To determine if the Instant Pot Vortex is worth shelling out 100-plus dollars for, we asked our kitchen and cooking editor Cassidy Olsen to weigh in on the new release below.
What can the Instant Pot air fryer do?
The better question would be what can't it do. Turn out crispy French fries? Check. Bake an apple pie? Check. Cook a juicy rotisserie chicken? Check. One of its seven functions is even a dehydrator so you can make your own beef jerky if your heart so desires. (The other six settings are air fry, roast, rotate, broil, reheat, and bake.)
With a roomy 10-quart capacity, you can cook enough for the whole family or up to six people. And with the LED touchscreen, you can choose from one of the 14 preset Smart Programs or manually adjust the temperature and time for whatever dish you're preparing.
What makes it different than other air fryers?
"Its convenient cube shape is reminiscent of our best value pick at Reviewed (the Cuisinart Compact AirFryer) and its all-digital control panel is a lot sleeker and more user-friendly than the mechanical dials on our current top picks," Olsen explains. "With its stacked interior racks, the Vortex also looks more like a food dehydrator than most air fryers, and for a good reason—more racks mean less crowding, which means crispier food."
She also notes that the extra features make it much more attractive than your average air fryer. "A common complaint of air fryers that I and many food writers have is that they're single-purpose devices that take up way too much space for how little they accomplish, but with the additional dehydrate, bake, broil, and rotate functions on this bad boy, there's a lot more going on," she says.
Is it worth buying?
Possibly—but Olsen isn't 100 percent convinced. "On first glance, the Instant Pot Vortex looks like the ideal air fryer, as if Instant Pot heard everyone's complaints about their appliances and said, 'I got you,'" she admits. However, given that one of our top-rated air fryers with similar features (the Ninja Foodi) sells for $200, Olsen is a little concerned about the Vortex's low cost.
"The Vortex's price tag at $119 is astounding—and it also makes me skeptical," Olsen says, adding, "If the Vortex can thoroughly and accurately accomplish all it claims, it's well worth the price tag for people who love to air fry. But at Reviewed, we take nothing for granted, and we simply can't know until we've finished testing. We'll have our review out soon!" Stay tuned...