If you've not yet caved and bought an air fryer, there could be a few good reasons why. Though they are exceptionally time and energy-efficient, even the very best air fryers can sometimes be lacking in all the space you need for family life.
If you need the oven capacity to cook large joints of meat or even family-sized dishes (like a good old pasta bake), then the two-drawer design of the best dual-zone air fryers may seem a little restrictive. That's where these two new releases from the biggest air fryer brands, Ninja and Instant come in. Yep, there's a new generation of air fryers on the scene!
We're pitting these two 5-star multi-zone air fryers (which we've tested) against each other to see which one will take home the gold and which one you should buy so that you never need to use your oven again.
Which one is bigger?
While dual-zone air fryers offer the practicality of having two separate cooking compartments, that sometimes means that you have to compromise on space. But what our expert reviewer Helen loved about these new Instant and Ninja fryers was the fact that they both had a larger capacity.
The Ninja offers either two 5.2-litre baskets or one 10.4-litre basket - with the latter giving her the chance to roast a whole 2kg leg of lamb with a little room to spare.
The Instant is a little smaller, though, offering one 8.5-litre basket or two 4.2-litre baskets. And while this was still large enough for her to cook some delicious cookies, it wasn’t quite tall enough for her to cook a 1.6 kg chicken without having to spatchcock it first.
So, if bigger is what you’re after, the Ninja Foodi FlexDrawer Air Fryer wins this round.
Which one cooks the fastest?
The Ninja and the Instant are very similar in terms of what they offer, and Helen found that they were also very similar in terms of how fast they cooked.
In fact, when she cooked chips in both air fryers, there was only a few minutes difference in cooking time. For 500g homemade chips in the Ninja, she cooked them at 200C for 20 minutes, giving them a couple of stirs throughout (after all, the drawer is so big that it doesn’t lend itself well to shaking).
For the same amount of chips in the Instant, she cooked them at 200C for 25 minutes. Again, giving them a few stirs to give them an even cook.
This means that the Ninja scrapes by as the winner in this round, but only slightly.
Which is easiest to use and clean?
In terms of assembly, both multi-zone air fryers were relatively simple to set up - although Helen did find that the Instant ‘felt relatively compact when I pulled it out of the packaging’ compared to the Ninja alternative, which felt bigger and bulkier.
But both offer simple-to-use control panels, as well as syncing options to ensure that both baskets finish cooking at the same time, even when the cooking times are different.
Something to note about both of these air fryers, however, is that neither of them offers a viewing window, so you can’t check on your food while it’s cooking.
If you want that privilege and know that you can put up with a smaller single-zone model, you could opt for the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Basket Air Fryer instead.
In terms of cleaning, the smaller elements (the dividers and cooking plates) of both air fryers can go in the dishwasher, but Helen found both of the main drawers way too big to go in the dishwasher. So, in both cases, you’ll need to wash these by hand.
Similarly, both options showed the tell-tale grease marks of an air fryer, which required her to buff the shiny exterior every so often.
In this round, we can’t help but think this one is a tie.
What’s the price difference?
Although how much it costs to run a dual-zone air fryer is arguably cheaper than how much it costs to run an oven, most people still love grabbing a bargain. And in terms of their prices, there’s a fairly sizable difference between these 5-star fryers.
While the Ninja retails at £269.99, the Instant retails at £199.99 (although, at the time of writing, it’s currently on sale at £149.99). With a non-sale difference of £70, that could be a major contributing factor to which one you choose to buy.
And there’s no doubt that the Instant Instant Vortex Plus VersaZone Air Fryer wins this round.
Final verdict: Which one should you buy?
Well, it’s safe to say that we have a divided house. In terms of practicality, ease of use, and size capacity, the Ninja is undoubtedly the best air fryer of the two - especially if you have a large family and are after an air fryer for a family of four.
But if you’re living solo or don’t plan on using an air fryer on a regular basis, the Instant would probably work better for you. Not only will it be a better size for you, but it’ll also save you some money in the process, too.
As both of these air fryers were rated 5 stars by our expert reviewer, though, we have no doubts that you would be happy with either.
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Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.
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