Midsummer feels like the perfect time for Instant Pot to debut its brand-new 7-in-1 Air Fryer: the Vortex Plus. Not only did the release come as a Walmart exclusive just ahead of Prime Day-related sales, but most of the country has also been hit with a heat wave that makes turning on the oven unthinkable. In addition to being an air fryer, the Vortex Plus can also broil, bake a cake, and spit-roast a whole chicken in less than 30 minutes.
Buy: Instant Vortex Plus 7-in-1 Air Fryer Oven, $119 at Walmart
I’ve been loving my air fryer since I got one almost a year ago (and I’m a big fan of the Instant Pot in general), so I jumped at the chance to test drive Instant Pot’s new air fryer. Here’s how the Vortex Plus performed in my home kitchen.
Everything You Need to Know About Instant Pot’s Vortex Plus
My test model of the Vortex Plus arrived directly from Instant Pot. As my UPS driver set it on the steps, he commented, “Oh you’re gonna love this thing!” We had a little back and forth because he assumed that the box was the beloved Instant Pot. When I explained a bit more, he was quick to share, “I’ve got an air fryer already, but if this one is bigger I might have to get one myself. Looking forward to your review.”
He’d be delighted to learn that the Vortex Plus has a capacity of 10 quarts — that’s large enough to hold a whole chicken or a full bag of frozen french fries. It can roast chicken thighs and a bunch of veggies at once, and so one of the most exciting promises of Instant Pot’s Air Fryer is its ability to feed the whole family with one cooking cycle.Here are the specific functions that this 7-in-1 air fryer boasts.
- Air Fry
The Vortex Plus has a pretty hefty footprint — about 1 1/2 times the size of my Instant Pot Max. A very short manual is included and asks that you clean the machine and give it a test cycle before you begin cooking. It is slightly discouraging that the manual doesn’t walk you through assembling the rotisserie. but the rest of the instructions are very clear and you can get more info (and some recipes!) at instantappliances.com.
It is definitely worth running the machine, empty, as a test run before trying out a recipe. The model my UPS driver initially delivered had an issue with a fan that wasn’t working, but I returned it for another one, which worked just fine.
The Vortex comes with a few accessories, including three pans that function as racks (two vented roasting pans and one flat drip pan), a rotisserie basket, and two rotisserie forks. The instruction manual suggestions you line the drip pan with foil and, yes, you should absolutely do that.
Some quick-start info: The Vortex Plus’ control panel is pretty intuitive, but only includes buttons for the Air Fry, Roast, Broil, Bake, Reheat, and Dehydrate modes. Rotisserie is built into the roast function and can be turned on and off in that mode. All of the cooking modes have pre-programmed temperatures and time, but these are easily adjusted on the panel. I did miss the “manual” function that’s on my Instant Pot, but this at least takes the guesswork out of things.
The Vortex Plus takes two to three minutes to preheat — way less than a conventional oven OR my other air fryer — at which point it chimes and asks you to add the food. You can also select the “rotate” function on any cooking mode and it will automatically split your cooking time in half, chime to remind you to rotate or flip your food, and then continue the cooking cycle. The max temperature on the Vortex is surprisingly just 400 degrees F.
My testing game plan was this: frozen tater tots (something I regularly throw in my current air fryer for my kids), roasted chickpeas, a whole rotisserie chicken, and Kitchn’s air fryer donuts. Later I split the tater tot test to try both the air-frying function and the rotisserie basket, plus added a batch of boxed brownies to test the baking function. Finally, a quart of strawberries got sliced to test the dehydrating function (I’ve always wanted a dehydrator!). Let’s take a look at how each function preformed.
If you’ve previously owned an inexpensive air fryer in the 3-quart range with a small round basket (raises hand), the air frying capacity of the Vortex Plus is enough to get excited about. The two nonstick roasting trays easily hold two pounds of fries or tater tots OR two baked potatoes, eight ounces of asparagus, and two steaks all at one time.
Because the Vortex’s heating element and fan are at the top of the machine, you will want to use the air fryer mode’s “rotate” reminder to swap the top rack for the bottom (and even give the pans a 180 spin, too) when frying things like donuts or zucchini chips. Overall, I’d say when I made doughnuts they came out just as good as they do in my other air fryer — only better because I could make a whole batch all at once!
It is hard to articulate just how exciting it is to watch a whole chicken rotate slowly on your kitchen counter, turning from pale to gorgeously brown in full view while you’re doing other things. It makes you feel like the most capable, brilliant cook ever. The stem and two forks are a little bit awkward to get in place; I’d recommend seasoning the inside of the chicken first, putting the stem and fork in place, and then seasoning the rest of the chicken, so that you don’t knock off the seasoning while putting the fork in place. Trussing the chicken is also recommended! I ran the stem along the back bone and stuck the forks in the thickest part of the breast meat and the leg opening, but the drumsticks dragged on the bottom of the oven while turning, so I pulled the bird out and trussed early in the process.
As for some reviews about the rotisserie function being spotty, I really had no problems once the rotary stem was properly in place. I do wish that Instant Pot had done a better job of stepping out this process in the instruction manual so that there was less juggling of raw meat. But I learned and will have less of an issue next time.
As for that alluring 30-minute rotisserie chicken: My 3 1/2-pounder took 50 minutes, but it was so incredibly delicious (and didn’t heat up the kitchen at all) that it was worth the longer wait. Plus, you couldn’t preheat your oven and roast a chicken in less time.
The Vortex also comes with a handy Y-shaped hook for inserting and removing both the rotisserie fork and the basket with ease.
The rotisserie basket feels like an accessory that I haven’t quite grasped the usefulness of yet. We tried half a bag of tater tots in it and got mixed reviews. Crisp chickpeas were delicious from this basket, however. They didn’t get quite as crisp as those we cooked on the vented rack, and this is probably because the rotary function only works in the roast mode — not air fry. Many people in the Vortex Plus’ official Facebook group suggested using it for chicken wings, sausages, and hotdogs. I’ve got almonds and petite carrots on my “to-rotisserie basket” list next.
You can bake in every air fryer, but not every pan fits inside of the smaller baskets. The Vortex comfortably holds an 8×8-inch baking pan, a 9-inch round cake or pie pan, or a 1.5-quart ceramic baking dish (oval, round, or square). While baking a batch of brownies, it did seem like the Vortex ran hotter than my conventional oven and the sides absolutely got crispier than intended, so watch your baking time. Parchment paper holds up to baking in the Vortex, too, which means you can line the roasting trays with it for baking a few cookies at a time as needed.
This test is still in progress with sliced strawberries on their third hour of drying as I type. The good news: The machine is quiet and I won’t mind it running overnight. As a dehydrator it doesn’t fit quite as much as other dehydrating machines, making it best for small batches of jerky or fruit leather (read: It might not be for Doomsday Preppers). I do wish the Vortex came with one more vented roasting rack for drying, as it does have space for three trays and would fit a bit more. I’ll be on the hunt for a third for myself.
Broil and Reheat
I haven’t tested the machine’s broil or reheat function yet, but both come with good reviews. Broiling is reportedly ideal for steaks, while the reheat function is making moves to replace your microwave, using low heat and convection to reheat without drying while also keeping things crisp. I’ll do my best to update this post with more as I continue to test.
Cleanup and Final Thoughts
The air fryer and rotisserie capabilities really shine on the Vortex Plus, but it’s the cleanup that might make it the most appealing air fryer ever. All of the accessories — the racks, the rotisserie basket and fork — are dishwasher-safe. If you’ve ever struggled to hand-wash the basket of another air fryer, the easy grease removal on the Vortex might move you to tears. (In a good way!) The door can be removed for hand-washing, and the inside is easy to wipe clean between uses.
Buy: Instant Vortex Plus 7-in-1 Air Fryer Oven, $119 at Walmart
I’m genuinely so excited to have the Vortex in my kitchen (my old air fryer is going to a new home). Like the Instant Pot, there is a little bit of a learning curve if you plan to use the Vortex as a replacement for a toaster oven or a conventional oven out of the box. It is worth joining the Facebook group and starting with recipes developed for cooking in an air fryer first.
Have you tried the Vortex Plus yet? What do you think of it?
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