Dramatic? Not really. The ability to slash cooking time and get creative in the kitchen without having to buy multiple appliances (yogurt anyone?) can be a lifesaver amid an often hectic schedule.
What is the Instant Vortex Plus?
The Instant Vortex Plus feels aptly named for an appliance that’s about to take your life by storm. It stands out by housing seven appliances in one: It can air fry, roast, rotisserie, broil, bake, reheat, and dehydrate.
Smart shoppers know to be skeptical about devices that claim to do so much — especially after the Instant Pot Max made a rather disappointing debut. Just released in July 2019, the general consensus on the Instant Vortex Plus is still up in the air, but we’ve compiled opinions from Walmart customers (it’s a Walmart exclusive), food bloggers, and other publishers to help you decide if it’s worth coughing up $119.
Ease of use: It requires some experimenting
If you’ve used an Instant Pot before, you’ve likely noticed that even the plainest displays are redundant. The touchscreen panel of the Instant Vortex Plus is pleasantly easy to navigate, with a button dedicated to each unique purpose, and on-screen reminders like when to flip your food. The only outlier is the rotisserie function, which is built into the roast function.
Walmart customer sj1320 sums it up best:
“I LOVE my new Instant Vortex Air Fryer. The Instant Vortex Air Fryer gives me direction – when to add the food, when to turn over the food. It is the easiest to use and to monitor when food is cooking. It does not take up a huge area on my countertop. The feature I like best is that it has TWO shelves for cooking. I’ve made hamburgers (6 at one time), sausage patties, and toasted pecans in a small pan without burning them.”
Everyone’s biggest gripe? The included instructions are essentially worthless. A few users recommend joining this — it’s a literal support group for questions and tips for other Instant Vortex Plus owners.
You can’t expect any multifunctional device to have absolutely no learning curve, but CNET’s reviewer still thinks there’s too much trial and error involved. A few users have found discrepancies in what the package calls for versus what actually works.
The functions people love (and don’t love)
When you consider that other air fryers go for the same price (give or take a few dollars), the Vortex is a steal — even if one or two functions are subpar.
As an air fryer: It’s primarily marketed as an air fryer and works well as one. Food gets a 180-degree spin for balanced browning, and the reminder to swap the top and bottom racks helps to promote consistent cooking. made cheese frenchee that came out “crispy and golden brown” after just six minutes of cooking. Bacon seems to be a favorite of Walmart reviewers.
As a roaster and rotisserie cooker: People are loving this glorified bingo cage. Chickens are turned slowly to promote thorough cooking inside and a rendered, juicy skin outside. The four-pound weight limit doesn’t offer much wiggle room, but tying the bird like a turkey helps.
Eater’s Ester Choi wasn’t impressed with a few of the other functions, but her rotisserie chicken invoked a priceless reaction:
The Vortex can technically accommodate a chicken larger than four pounds if it’s set directly onto the tray.
As a broiler: You don’t need Guy Fieri skills to brown a steak or veggies here. Vlogger John Sanders made mouth-watering broiled asparagus and the process looked super simple — but Eater’s Esther Choi said her steak tasted like it was from Denny’s (womp womp). This is also the feature you’d use to toast, and we’ve heard that bagels come out golden.
As a reheater: That’s another way to say “microwave replacement.” You can’t adjust the temperature like you can with other settings, but the default 280 degrees is ideal for leftovers.
As a dehydrator: CNET’s reviewer appreciated how simple making jerky was, but others have not been psyched on waiting up to six hours for a small tray of fruit to dry out. You may have to run the dehydrator overnight, but at least it’s quiet.
Capacity and accessories: Trays make layering easy
Basket-style air fryers are great for newbies, but that cramped capacity limits you to lot of french fries or chicken wings. The 10-quart capacity dwarves many toaster ovens. At 17 pounds, it’s not easily storable — fortunately, the stainless steel design and digital display make it appealing enough to leave on the counter.
Nearly every review we encountered was hyped on the double trays. Flipping food halfway through cooking is much easier when you don’t have to dig around with tongs, and multiple trays make way for bigger batches.
Not only does the transparent door let you monitor progress, but it comes off completely so you can wipe the inside clean. Trays and accessories are dishwasher safe — meaning you may never have to hand-wash a greasy pan again.
Wait time: Pre-heating and actual cooking are speedy
Impatient folks will be glad to hear that the Instant Vortex only takes about 2-3 minutes to heat up, 30 minutes to roast, and less than 15 minutes to fry. Countless Walmart reviews give a shout out to the quick cooking times.
Hitting “rotate” on any cooking mode will automatically split cooking time in half, remind you to flip your food, and then finish out the cooking cycle.
According to this Twitter thread, this ribeye was done after only three minutes on each side.
Pricing and where to buy
The Instant Vortex Plus is currently a Walmart exclusive and retails at $119 (though it did drop to $99 in honor of Prime Day.) There are obviously no reviews from Amazon or Target to factor in yet, but it has a 4.3 out of 5-star review at Walmart overall.