Air fryers are arguably the most convenient kitchen appliance on the market, taking away reliance on ovens. Dual-zone air fryers can increase that convenience even more in a family setting, with the two baskets instead of one enabling two components to be cooked at the same time but at different temperatures.
One such example of an air fryer with two baskets is the Instant Vortex Plus Dual 8-Quart Air Fryer. It has been masterminded by the same company behind Instant Pots, those ever-useful multi-functional cookers. And it's not just the two baskets that are convenient with this air fryer. The window and internal light make checking on the progress of your food so easy, too.
It's packed full of different functions too, besides the ability to air fry. You can air fry, roast, broil, bake, reheat, or dehydrate, too, which gives you plenty for your money. I tested this air fryer out with a variety of foods to see how it measured up when it came to the best air fryers. Here's how it fared.
Molly Cleary is a freelance reviewer and was previously the Staff Writer at Top Ten Reviews. She now works as an e-commerce editor at the home interest site Ideal Home, where she reviews air fryers, vacuums, and a huge range of other appliances every day. Her writing has been featured in Live Science, My Imperfect Life, Livingetc and other titles. Molly tested this air fryer at Future's dedicated test facility alongside a host of other models.
Instant Vortex Plus Dual: Key specs
|Air fry, roast, bake, reheat, grill, dehydrate, Sync Cook
Instant Vortex Plus Dual: Price & availability
The Instant Vortex Plus Dual 8-quart Air Fryer has a list price of $179.95, which is higher than you'll find for single-basket models. It's possible to find it for less than the list price when on sale or on Amazon, for example.
Instant Vortex Plus Dual: Setup
As with all Instant products, the Instant Vortex Dual came packaged in an appealing box, one that's quite a bit bigger than the single basket version of this air fryer, the Instant Vortex 6-Quart Air Fryer. This is most definitely a family-sized air fryer, so if you don't have a lot of countertop space spare, then definitely measure up before you order it.
There is a fair amount of plastic involved in the packaging of this air fryer, but there are also numerous elements that need to be bundled up within there, including the drawers and grill plates that live within the main unit. Getting the air fryer out of the polystyrene layer may need two pairs of hands instead of one for ease, but from there, setup is easy.
Simply plug the air fryer in and set it off on a preliminary round of cooking with nothing inside. This helps to get rid of that first burning smell that arises when first using a brand-new air fryer.
Setting up appliances from Instant has always been a breeze for me. They include a good amount of supplementary materials and links to their website, which gives you access to plenty more resources.
One of my favorite things about this air fryer is how user-friendly it is. Certain parts of the front of the unit are a touch screen, which you use in conjunction with the central dial in the middle. It has a nice, not-too-annoying jingle to let you know when it's preheated and when it's time to shake food, too. Family members of every generation will be able to use this model with no issues.
Instant Vortex Plus Dual: Design
As well as a lovely-looking interface, the rest of the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Air Fryer benefits from an enviable design. Its front slopes down to the two baskets below, with a band of stainless steel separating the two.
The handles on the basket feel sturdy, and this air fryer also comes with a spare grill plate for the inside of the tray, which is handy. One thing I really love about this air fryer is that when turned off, the exterior is completely plain, as there are no buttons. It makes the entire appliance look very clean.
The two baskets will prove so useful for everyday family life when you need to cook two different foods for different amounts of time at different temperatures. Picky eaters who request a different meal than the one you have planned can simply have their food popped into the other drawers. The only time that the two-drawer system is less useful is if you habitually cook up large joints of meat, like a leg of lamb.
Instant Vortex Plus Dual: Performance
The features that I was really keen to test with this air fryer were the ones that really showcase the dual basket design. These settings are Sync Cook (which automatically cooks two portions with the same settings) and Sync Finish (which automatically finishes cooking at the same time for two types of cooking).
So, first up, to try out the Sync Finish setting, I air-fried battered fish fillets in one drawer and homemade fries in the other drawer. To get started, it's advisable to preheat this air fryer so as not to mess with your timings. To get the drawers to sync up at the end, you program each one individually (pressing 1 for the left drawer and 2 for the right drawer) and then press the button that says 'Sync Finish.'
Once the preheating was done, which happened very quickly, then I set the fries and fish off. The fries needed a longer time, so they cooked from the offset, while this air fryer delayed the cooking of the fries until they both needed the same amount of time to finish.
This air fryer has 1700 watts of power, and it shows just how little time it takes to cook food compared to a regular oven. Once done, the air fryer beeps to let you know that you can collect your food, and both the fries and fish fillets were cooked fantastically.
Next, I moved on to test out the Sync Cook setting. This is a really helpful button for when you want to double up on a portion without having to plug settings into each one individually. I prepared a chicken and vegetable mix, with enough portions for four people, and divided them between the two drawers.
Now that the air fryer was already hot from the fries test, there was no need to preheat. At the halfway point, the air fryer beeped to let me know to shake both drawers and then return them to continue cooking. The resulting chicken and vegetables were excellently cooked, with the meat keeping a fantastic juicy taste. You also need to use a lot less oil than usual with this air fryer while still enjoying crisp results.
I then tried broccoli out in just one of the air fryer drawers to see how it measures up to single-drawer models I've tested before. In just five minutes, this air fryer produced lovely crispy broccoli that wasn't overdone. If you want to conserve energy, then you could just use one drawer for a single portion when eating alone.
Finally, I air-fried some bacon in another one of the drawers, which is an air fryer staple. It cooked fantastically, with no curling. This is where the grill plates really come into their own, too, as all of the fat from the bacon drips down into a separate chamber away from the food so that you can enjoy your bacon with a little less guilt.
This air fryer cooks really well but doesn't quite have the temperature range that its bigger competitor, the Ninja DZ401 Foodi 10 Quart 6-in-1 DualZone XL 2-Basket, does. If you want those high temperatures or an air fryer that works even faster than this one, then check that out as an option.
This is a pretty quiet air fryer to run, too, though it is large on your countertop. The only other gripe I have with it is that the grill plates inside can be tricky to clean, too. There are rubber grips on each edge of the plates, and these are magnets for grease and food. If you do invest in this air fryer, make sure to scrub under those rubber parts properly and then re-insert them.
Instant Vortex Plus Dual Air Fryer: User reviews
The Instant Vortex air fryer has received enthusiastic reviews from users who appreciate its ease of use, straightforward instructions, and simple cleaning process. Even those with small kitchens find the appliance's compact size and efficiency in cooking a whole chicken or preparing food at the same temperature an advantage. The non-intrusive beep upon completion is also appreciated.
The 6QT model, with its 6-in-1 functionality and Odor Erase Technology, has been particularly praised for its versatility and ability to keep the kitchen odor-free. Users are particularly enthusiastic about the extensive collection of in-app recipes that provide endless culinary inspiration.
Despite some concerns about the door mechanism and temperature accuracy, as well as an initial chemical smell, the overall consensus is that these air fryers are a valuable addition to the kitchen.
Should you buy the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Air Fryer?
|Nearly $200 list price, but you can find it on sale for less
|Interface is touch-screen and minimalistic, but some parts are hard to clean
|Great cooking ability, with the choice to cook with 1 or 2 drawers at different temperatures
Buy it if...
You need to cook two things at the same time
For family homes or fussy eaters, the ability to cook in two separate drawers at the same time is a total game-changer.
You need to maximize capacity
With the ability to cook up to eight portions at once, this really is a family-friendly air fryer.
An easy-to-use interface is important to you
If you don't want to spend time agonizing over hard-to-use controls, then this air fryer is the ideal user-friendly solution.
Don’t buy it if…
You’re lacking in countertop space
This is not a compact model, which means that you'll need to measure up for it before it arrives.
You only ever cook for yourself
There's still some use to the dual drawer system if you're cooking for one, but you might want to opt for something more affordable that's geared toward one portion at a time.
You're on a tight budget
Even if you can find this model on sale, you're still going to be looking at over $100 spent.
How does the Instant Vortex Plus Dual compare?
If you are looking for an air fryer with two drawers, thanks to all the functionality this kind of space showed in our tests, then the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Air Fryer is a great choice.
If you would prefer a combination model that can double as a toaster oven as well as an air fryer, then the Cuisinart Compact Air Fryer Toaster Oven is also a small, family-friendly choice. It doesn't have the same capacity as the Instant, but it is more compact to fit onto your countertop.
If you want to hold onto a big capacity, then the Philips XXL HD9630/98 Air Fryer is a great large air fryer that has one drawer instead of two. Though it means you can't sync and match drawers up, you will be able to fit in big joints of meat in one go.
How I tested the Instant Vortex Plus Dual
The main testing criteria with this air fryer were how well it cooked a range of foods, its value for money, and its overall design.
I did several rounds of testing using different foods. I recorded how long each food type took and took photographs to document how cooked everything was.
Finally, I cleaned and stored the air fryer at home to have a realistic depiction of day-to-day use.