Along with Ninja, Instant is one of the brands that dominates the air fryer market. And the new Instant Vortex Plus 6-in-1 Air Fryer with ClearCook is one of three new Vortex Plus models they have recently launched. It features a viewing window not seen on previous Instant air fryers, but does it deserve a spot in our guide to the best air fryers?
At £119.99 this is the cheapest of the newly launched trio, partly because it lacks the OdourErase air filter feature seen on the next model up. Nevertheless, this is a great price for such a good quality air fryer.
This sleek black air fryer has a capacity of almost six litres which is enough for up to six portions depending on what you’re cooking, so it’s great for families. I enjoyed everything about this easy-to-use appliance, it was fantastically fast at crisping and browning everything I made in it. What’s more, in addition to air frying it can also roast, bake, reheat, grill, and dehydrate, making it a pretty useful addition to your kitchen.
Ideal Home rated: 5 out of 5 stars
Reasons to buy:
- Viewing window and internal light
- Removable tray insert
- Good capacity
- Touch control panel
- Useful range of functions
- Dishwasher safe basket and cooking try
Reasons to avoid:
- Instruction manual lacks advice on cook times
- Quite bulky
Instant Vortex Plus Air Fryer with ClearCook
- Material: Plastic
- Colour: Black
- Capacity: 5.7 litres
- Modes: Air fry, roast, bake, reheat, grill, dehydrate
- Weight: 5.15kg
- Power: 1700W
- Size: 33 x 30 x 37.9cm (h x w x d)
The Instant Vortex Plus 6-in-1 Air Fryer with ClearCook comes in a chunky box, but it’s not very heavy and there’s a handle on top which means it’s easy to move into the kitchen ready for unboxing. Upon opening the box I discovered one of my pet hates – polystyrene. Two large polystyrene inserts hold the fryer in position inside the box, but with so many appliance manufacturers phasing out this hard-to-recycle packaging, it’s frustrating to see it here.
Once on the kitchen worktop I’m immediately impressed with the sleek and minimal exterior of the air fryer. It has a smart combination of shiny and matte black finishes, and I don’t feel the need to hide it away in a cupboard. The viewing window on the front of the drawer doesn’t allow you to see inside unless the internal light is switched on, this ensures it looks neat and streamlined when it’s switched off. Additionally, the touch screen control panel remains completely black when switched off, so the only visible control is the silver dial.
The small instruction manual contains the necessary information on how to operate the air fryer, but I would have liked some guidance on cooking times and temperatures for common everyday foods. If you’re new to air frying this information would provide a useful starting point. Having said this, there are air fryer recipes on the Instant Brands app, lots of them are American recipes, but they’ll give you an idea of general cook times.
Using the Instant Vortex Plus 6-in-1 Air Fryer with ClearCook
It really couldn’t be easier to use this air fryer. I like the angled control panel, which means I don’t have to stand on tiptoes to see the menu. Once switched on, the controls illuminate, and the cooking modes are displayed. After selecting a cooking mode, it’s just a case of pressing the time/temp button and spinning the dial for quick adjustment of these settings. Plus, it remembers the last time and temperature settings you used, which is handy if you regularly cook the same foods. There is an audible beep when you’re pressing the controls, I didn’t find it annoying but it can be switched off if you prefer.
When you start a cooking mode the air fryer automatically begins preheating and then the display tells you to ‘add food’ once it’s hot enough. Another feature I liked was the reminder to turn food part way through cooking.
The basket has a chunky handle and pulls out with ease. The perforated cooking tray slots into the basket and is held in place with grippy rubberised sections on each of the four sides, this means it doesn’t fall out when you tip food out of the basket. Not only does it allow air to circulate around your food for great crispy results, but excess oil drips through the tray into the basket underneath, giving you even healthier meals. I like that it’s removable though, so you can get it out of the way if you’re using the air fryer to bake foods like bread and cakes.
This air fryer cooked bacon with impressive speed. Admittedly I wasn’t looking for super crispy results since I was cooking back bacon. However, with the air fryer set to 190oC the bacon was cooked in just six minutes, the fatty rind down the side of each rasher had started to render and crisp. I cut this part off before eating, but if you want it super crisped it might require a couple more minutes. I also timed the preheat stage which took around 2 ½ minutes – just enough time to get the bacon out of the fridge, open it up and grab a pair of tongs.
I love that there’s no grease splatter to clean up afterwards like there is when frying bacon. And also found it reassuring how much fat dripped into the base of the drawer, rather than ending up on my plate. For foods like bacon that cook so quickly, the viewing window is a great feature so you can cook it to perfection without opening the drawer every minute to check on progress.
Heating frozen food
Frozen breaded chicken goujons crisped up a treat in the air fryer. The packaging said they would take 20 minutes in an oven set to 200oC so I stuck to the same temperature in the air fryer. I wasn’t sure how long they would take so I set it to 15 minutes, but could quickly see through the viewing window that they would be done much faster. I turned them once and after a total time of just eight minutes, they were crisped and hot. But eight minutes seemed too good to be true, so for the avoidance of all doubt (and food poisoning) I stuck my food probe into one of the chicken strips to check they really were cooked all the way through – which they were. I was impressed.
I also tried out frozen Quorn sausages. It can be tricky to achieve a nice brown crisp coating on these meat-free sausages when cooked in an oven. Not in this air fryer though, they were crisp and golden in 10 minutes, far short of the usual 18 – 20 minutes needed in an oven. I brushed them with oil before cooking, just as I do when oven cooking them. But unlike in an oven, the excess oil dripped away and they crisped without drying out.
With no recipe or guidelines given in the manual, I headed to the Instant app for guidance on cooking chips. I could only find a recipe for skinny fries, but used this as a basis for my chunkier chips. I peeled, chopped and rinsed my chips, then soaked them in cold water for 20 minutes.
This part isn’t essential, but it helps to remove excess starch from the potatoes and can lead to a fluffier result. After drying, I coated in two teaspoons of oil and some seasoning. With a couple of shakes part way through cooking to ensure they browned evenly, they took 25 minutes to reach a nice crisp and golden texture on the outside with fluffy potato in the centre.
Finally, I roasted a selection of Mediterranean vegetables using the air fry function. I coated chopped peppers, courgette, red onion and portobello mushrooms in two teaspoons of oil and air fried at 200oC for 20 minutes, shaking occasionally for an even result.
I was looking for slightly charred edges on the peppers and onion, which can take an hour in my oven, so to get that in just 20 minutes was a real time saver. All the vegetables were nicely cooked and unlike when I do them in my oven, the peppers hadn’t gone completely soft and soggy, they still had a slight crunch which I enjoyed.
It’s worth noting that lots of steam is created when roasting these types of vegetables. And I had clearly positioned the air fryer a little too close to the wall because the tiles became quite wet with condensation. Additionally, the viewing window steamed up in-between the two pieces of plastic and this took overnight to dry out completely.
If you’ve got a dishwasher, cleaning this air fryer is pretty simple. Both the air fryer basket and the removable tray insert can be washed in the dishwasher. But even if you don’t have a dishwasher the non-stick coating means cleaning by hand is still a breeze.
The shiny touch screen control panel, as well as the shiny finish on the front of the basket, mean both of these can mark easily with greasy fingerprints. But I found it only requires a quick spritz with a kitchen spray and a wipe to clean off any marks. It can dry streaky though, but I buffed it with a tea towel or microfibre cloth and the shine was quickly restored.
Should you buy the Instant Vortex Plus 6-in-1 Air Fryer with ClearCook?
I really enjoyed using this air fryer. It’s got a decent capacity and can produce crisp, evenly browned food in super quick time. One of its great features is the viewing window in the front of the drawer. Together with the light, the window meant I could keep an eye on what was cooking. This stopped me from opening it up too often to check whether the food needed a turn or a shake.
The controls are intuitive to use and with six functions to choose from, it’s a versatile air fryer that’ll mean you no longer need to switch on the oven to heat and crisp lots of your favourite foods. In my opinion, it’s a brilliant air fryer, and the very reasonable £120 price tag means it’s a bit of a no brainer. To see more from Instant, take a look at our guide to the best multi-cookers.
About this review, and the reviewer
Helen McCue is a freelance contributor who trained as a Home Economist. After starting her career in the food industry, she moved into home appliance reviews, utilising her cooking skills and experience to put all kinds of products to the test, and over the years has reviewed hundreds of home and kitchen appliances for a variety of publications.
Having completely renovated her current house, Helen reviews kitchen appliances from her open plan kitchen at home in a beautiful Berkshire village. When she’s not working, Helen can be found enjoying the local countryside or dreaming about her next house renovation project.