If you’re considering an air fryer, doing solid research is an important step since there are so many makes and models out there.
We think countertop kitchen appliances should be durable, well-made, and have some longevity. Enter the Instant™ Vortex® 6-Quart Air Fryer.
We’ve used this air fryer for 180+ published recipes – from fresh items to frozen foods – on this website. It’s small but powerful – the basket size is perfect for two (or more) people.
So, if you’re considering this air fryer for your kitchen, this is the post for you. We thoroughly test this air fryer, compare it to other top models, and share pros and cons about the Instant™ Vortex® 6-Quart Air Fryer – so that you make the best decision for you and your family.
Would we recommend it?
It’s air fried evenly since day one and has never given us mechanical issues with the electronics, internal burner, basket integrity (even after an accidental drop), etc.
Honestly, yes. For the price we paid almost three years ago, this Vortex® 6-quart air fryer has held up and only really had the wear and tear you’d expect from a well-used countertop kitchen appliance.
The size is great for us. It makes 4 burgers, 3 or 4 salmon fillets, a basket full of breakfast potatoes, plenty of vegetables, a full basket of chicken wings, etc. That’s more than enough for two people.
Of course, it also has limitations – all air fryers do.
The removable silicone “feet” on the tray have definitely begun to show signs of wear (after hundreds of uses), the basket tray has larger slots that allow small food pieces (usually vegetables) to fall through, and it only has one fan speed (no dehydrate setting).
Thinking through both sides: for the price, ease of use, size of the basket/shape, and the appliance as a whole, we’d recommend the Vortex® 6qt.
Instant™ Vortex® Quick Overview
- 6 Quart capacity (feeds up to four people)
- 4 Functions/Pre-sets: Air Fry, Roast, Bake, and Reheat
- Color and Materials: Black and stiff outer plastic casing with metallic inner components
- Basket and Tray Shape/Size: Rectangle (almost square) basket shape (10.5L x 11.3W x 5H inches) with removable tray (9 3/4L x 9 1/2W inches).
- Removeable silicone “feet” on the tray
- Comes with: Air Fryer, Instruction Manual, Removable Tray, Silicone tray “feet”.
Pros and Cons of the Vortex® 6qt Air Fryer
In this section, we’ll breakdown some of the most obvious pros and cons to the Vortex® 6qt air fryer. These are all based on first-hand experience after using this air fryer for 2+ years.
|+Easy to use – has preset functions but can also choose cooking time and temperature for each recipe||– Silicone breakdown – the “feet” for the tray clip into the tray with little tabs and these tabs have broken down. At time of writing (2022), the tray isn’t sold separately for replacement.|
|+Easy to clean – the smooth basket is easy to wipe out and the tray is relatively easy to clean||– Small Tray Handle: the tray can be tough to remove (small metallic handle) and needs to be cleaned well after use (see photo below)|
|+Compact, yet Large – it’s compact on the counter but large in cooking space (6 quart)||– Capacity: might be too small for some households with lots of people and/or hungry kids.|
|+Cooks Evenly – utilizes EvenCrisp™ air fry technology – from experience it’s always done well.||– Tray Slots: the air slots in the tray allow some food to fall through. It’s not a huge deal, but a consideration.|
|+“Little to No Oil” – this claim actually holds up. Things get crispy with little or no extra oil added.||– Limited Settings: no variable fan speed nor dehydrate setting.|
Top Questions Answered
If you have specific questions about the Vortex® 6-quart air fryer, here are some answers to frequently asked questions about this air fryer.
Does it pre-heat?
Yes, it does it automatically preheat after you set the cooking time and temperature.
It might take getting used to if you have had a different air fryer but we really like it because it doesn’t start counting down cooking time until it’s ready to start cooking. It shows “On” while it preheats which is handy.
Then it tells you when to add the food, and then it starts counting. Preheating is also pretty quick – it typically takes between 2-5 minutes to get up to temperature.
How big, stable, sturdy and heavy is it?
The Vortex® 6-quart air fryer is very solid on the counter. It weighs around 12 pounds – making it not too heavy to move easily but heavy enough that it’s definitely not going anywhere if you nudge it.
Additionally, it has strong rubber feet at the corners which work great on our clean, dry kitchen counter surface.
The overall outside footprint is 12 inches x 12 inches x 13 inches tall. It’s not huge on the counter yet it packs quite a bit of useable cooking space in the basket.
This is partially because the almost square design utilizes the most room inside the air fryer body.
What shape is the tray? Is it non-stick?
The tray is just shy of being a perfect square. We like this because there is less wasted space compared to a circle. Items that are long fit well and it also fits square pans.
Because the front corners are slightly different than the back corners in the basket, the tray has handy directional arrows which line up with the back of the basket. This way you never put the tray in backwards.
Yes, the tray is also non-stick. We rarely have issue with food sticking – but as the tray gets older and with regular cleaning, the coating does start to breakdown on the metallic tray.
Does it automatically shut off?
Yes, it has a function known as auto-turn off which means it’s always on a timer. When the timer runs out, it says “End” and then turns itself off.
You can always add more time on the go if you think you need more, which is nice.
Additionally, this air fryer pauses automatically when you open the basket. It will resume air frying once the basket is properly inserted again.
Is it easy to clean?
Generally, yes. The air fryer basket is non-stick meaning it’s easy to wipe down or clean with a little soap and water (never submerge the whole basket, though, only fill it/wipe it out with a cloth).
The inside of the air fryer is more difficult to clean. It has to be cooled down and with the heating element just above, we’re always a little hesitant to really wipe down the inside.
That said, we do wipe it from time to time. The above photo is after 2 years of cooking so it’s been through its paces!
Does it make noise?
Yes, out of the box the Vortex® 6qt air fryer beeps when you touch any button, when preheating is done, when it’s time to turn the food, etc. Basically it beeps all the time.
It’s helpful if you aren’t keeping a close eye on the cooking progress but we honestly found it a little annoying.
The good news is that you can easily turn the beeping sound of which is what we have done. Simply press the “Time” and “Temp” button at the same time for 3 seconds.
This means that we might miss the commands of the air fryer but we are attentive people when we air fry so this has never been an issue.
What accessories are available for the air fryer?
In terms of air fryer accessories made by Instant, there aren’t too many.
However, there are many third party accessories you can use with this style of air fryer. You can buy square parchment paper for the air fryer and some metallic caking forms.
Otherwise, Instant™ themselves say that you shouldn’t use their CorningWare brand dishes in an air fryer (only in their Instant™ Pot).
Newer models like this 5.7 quart Vortex® come with a few additional accessories like a bottom grilling pan and a raised kit for using skewers in the air fryer
Does Instant™ have an App?
Yes, Instant™ has an app for recipes and more. You can download it for both iOS and Android. It’s good, but many food items (especially frozen foods) haven’t yet been tested in the air fryer so it doesn’t have all the answers.
So, how well does the Vortex® air fry?
Really well. We’ve made almost 200 unique items in this air fryer and it’s almost always worked out well.
If you want to see how the Vortex® actually performs, you can check out the Cooking Test section below.
Other Features to Note
In addition to all the standard information you can read off the website or the box, here are some other observations and features to consider that we have learned after 2 years of regular usage.
These are only things you know when you own the product and realize when you’ve had time to think and compare. Hopefully these additional tips help you make the right air fryer decision for you:
- The back vent expels the hot air at over 160 degrees Fahrenheit temperature so keep it away from the edge of the wall or counter to allow for safe and easy venting.
- Speaking of heat, the external body doesn’t get too hot to the touch. You can touch the outside plastic casing – minus the exhaust vent – and it’s warm but not hot to the touch. It also has an “auto shut off” for extreme overheating which we’ve never had happen but good to know.
- The cord is long and sturdy – never had an issue with it. It’s also grounded (it has three prongs, not just two).
- Our Vortex® still has two digital display windows that show cooking time and temperature at the same time. Newer models have one number display that alternates between time and temperature. It’s not a huge deal but we like seeing both!
- We’ve heard the plastic handle can fall off – this has not happened to us and we’ve even dropped the basket accidentally. The plastic chipped but the handle didn’t lose any strength or integrity.
- If you want to dump the air fryer food into a serving bowl, the tray has a tendency to want to fall out because it’s not attached in the basket. It only sits on the silicone feet. It’s not a huge deal – we use a wooden spoon or silicone tipped tongs to hold the tray in place when we dump food out. Again, just something to consider.
- Speaking about style and design, compared to some other air fryers we like that the handle on the Vortex® 6qt in black is a brushed black plastic. Some other air fryer with shiny handles show fingerprints really easily! This is being very picky but if you care about that kind of thing – the Vortex® 6qt in black is great.
Previous Versions and Model Comparisons
We have an Instant™ Vortex® 4-in-1, 6-quart Air Fryer purchased in 2020. Since then, there have been updated version of this same air fryer as well as Vortex® models with larger and smaller capacities.
Eric’s parents have an Instant™ Vortex® Plus 6-in-1 that is a direct step up from ours. The Instant™ Vortex® Plus 6-in-1 model might also comes with a “dehydrate” setting.
It’s plastic/stainless steel on the outside and features 6 functions (it includes dehydrate and broil compared to our Vortex®) – but the size and shape is identical to ours. We’ve used it with them and it’s identical in function and cooking outcomes.
As mentioned above, models like this 5.7 quart Vortex® is also very similar to our 6qt and comes with a few additional accessories like a bottom grilling pan and a raised kit for using skewers in the air fryer. This would be handy for making Shish kebabs.
Larger Vortex® Air Fryer Models
There are also many larger models of the Vortex® line. Instant™ has a number of 8-quart, 9-quart, and 10-quart Vortex® Air fryers.
Some – like this 8-quart Vortex® – have dual-zone, meaning you can cook two different things in different temperature zones for different times. With a larger capacity, this might be ideal for a larger family than ours (two people).
Newer models also have more functions for cooking: the original 4 settings (air fry, bake, reheat, roast), broil and dehydrate – as well as two additional programable “smart settings” for time and temp which you can create yourself.
This Instant™ Vortex® Plus Dual 8-quart model also has “Clearcook” meaning part of the basket is clear and the model has an internal light. You no longer have to open the air fryer to check on the food!
We haven’t tried this feature yet but we are going to buy a Vortex® with this clear basket in the very near future to test it.
Instant™ also has a 10-quart oven-style air fryer which looks similar to our Vortex® but is fundamentally different. From a price point, it’s not that much more than the 6-quart Vortex®.
Our air fryer uses the basket method to cook while the 10-quart one uses racks or a rotating barrel or a rotisserie attachment for a whole chicken. It’s much more of a “mini convection oven” than just an air fryer.
Smaller Vortex® Air Fryer Models
Lastly, there are a few smaller Vortex® Air Fryer models if 6qt or more is too large for you.
There is a Instant™ Vortex® Plus 4-quart Air Fryer which is much more comparable to the regular Ninja 4qt Air Fryer. Because it’s a “Plus” it has dehydrate and broil as standard settings.
There is also a 2-quart Vortex® Mini Air Fryer which is designed for “singles, students, smaller portions”. It comes in different colors making it more attractive to different buyers and it’s also much cheaper.
Air Fryer Testing Methodology + Results
We’ve used the Instant™ Vortex® 6-Quart Air Fryer extensively for over 180 recipes on this website so we know its abilities.
We have also developed a standard testing criteria for every air fryer we buy and try.
Because we have cooked so many different things in this air fryer, we thought it might be helpful to see how it performed on different types of foods.
Below, you’ll see chicken breast for meat, broccoli for vegetable, frozen popcorn chicken for a frozen item, and a meat/veggie combination recipe!
We do these tests because by cooking different food items from fresh and frozen, it gives us (and you) a better understanding of how the air fryer performs under different conditions.
Here are the results for fresh chicken breast:
You can find the whole chicken breast recipe here. Cooking fresh chicken breast in the air fryer turned out really, really well. The air fryer didn’t dry it out at all as the chicken remained juicy.
We also made a frozen chicken breast and it turned out the same, just with slightly longer cooking time.
Here are the results for our broccoli:
You can find our air fryer broccoli recipe here. Broccoli is actually the very first thing we ever made in the air fryer!
Turns out, it’s one of the more difficult things! Not because the air fryer did a bad job – the florets have those little “buds” which can crisp and burn faster than the stalk if you aren’t careful about your cooking time and temp.
Now, we’ve mastered it in our 6qt Vortex®. A little crispy, not too overdone – excellent broccoli all around!
Lastly, here are the results for frozen popcorn chicken:
We have made many frozen foods in our Vortex® and they have all pretty much turned out perfectly.
Frozen pot pie gave us the most trouble but was still tasty. Other breaded items from chicken strips to breaded fish work really well and without any extra oil.
Here’s one of our combination recipes – this one is for kielbasa and peppers:
Combination recipes in the air fryer are great because you can create dinner dishes quickly and efficiently with very little overall prep.
It’s true that not all combinations of meats and veggies or veggies and veggies work together because they have very different cooking times.
However, all the combos we have on this website are posted because they work well together.
There are a few things that we have found didn’t work out as well in the air fryer – or at least in this air fryer.
- We tried air fryer popcorn but the high fan speed and lack of stable heat meant they didn’t really pop. Additionally, the exposed heating element worried us – one kernel got stuck up there and the air fryer started to smoke. Popcorn might work better in an air fryer with a rotating basket function (but we haven’t tried it yet).
- With no dehydrate mode, we did not have a lower temperature combined with a lower fan speed to make different kinds of chips. We did successfully make a number of “chips” (apple chips, kale chips, potato chips, etc.) in this air fryer. However, higher heat and fan speed likely made our chips dry too quickly whereas a true dehydrate setting evenly crisps a chip over a long period of time. Also, lower fan speed means kale chips (or other light items) don’t dance around as much in the basket. So, you can make “chips” in this air fryer – but you have to watch them more closely.
Common Comparable Air Fryers: Vortex® 6qt Vs. Ninja 4qt
One of the main competitors for the Vortex® 6qt air fryer is the Ninja 4-quart Air Fryer.
We own both and have used and tested both. We’ll write a more detailed comparison guide including pros and cons about these two air fryers which you can read soon.
For now, we’ve summarized the most important points for you in a table below:
Side-by-Side Quick Comparison
|Criteria||Vortex® 6qt Air Fryer||Ninja 4qt|
|Capacity/ Basket Shape||6 quart (5.7 Liter)/ roughly square||4 quart (3.8 Litre)/ round|
|Functions||4: Air Fry, Roast, Bake, Reheat||4: Air Fry, Roast, Reheat, Dehydrate|
|Variable Fan Speed||No||Yes – two speeds (1260 RPMs dehydrate vs. 3100 RPMs air fry settings)|
|Tray||Flat, non-stick, small, rotating handle in middle||Flat, non-stick, fixed handle, with openings and silicone wall feet (additional dehydrate tray included)|
|Power Cord||Grounded||Not Grounded|
|Price||99.00 USD (was 119.00 USD)||89.95 USD (was 129.00 USD)|
You can see how these air fryers performed side-by-side in cooking, design, and functionality in our head-to-head comparison post (coming soon).
In short, there are few notable differences. We feel Vortex® has the edge with the square basket design.
Squares allow for easier food placement, more options for cooking long items (like a pork tenderloin, for example), and less crowding – all the while the air fryer still maintains a smaller profile overall.
Also, round baking or round cake pans can fit in a square basket (of the same size) but you’ll never get a square baking dish into a round basket (of the same size length and width). Just things to consider!
Yes, Vortex® doesn’t dehydrate – but we feel the basket design and overall functionality overcomes the few additional options the Ninja offers. Ninja 4qt is still an excellent air fryer… we just prefer Vortex® head-to-head.
Customer Support Quality
When you buy a product, you’re buying into a company and their eco-system of accessories and support.
So, it might be helpful to know how Instant’s customer support is in case you need to contact them for any issues that might arise (like warranty or troubleshooting).
Truthfully, we’ve never contacted Instant™ support for this air fryer because it has not given us issues.
That said, we have contacted Instant™ support for another countertop kitchen appliance and they were super responsive. They’ve since sent us a replacement quickly (not an air fryer) without much hassle. We just had to show proof of purchase.
If you are new to air fryers (welcome!), here are a few more helpful posts that will get you started air frying the right way:
- How Does an Air Fryer Work?
- How to Clean an Air Fryer
- Which Oil is Best for the Air Fryer? (coming soon)
Overall, we’re a fan of the Instant™ Vortex® 6-Quart Air Fryer. It’s held up well – and the size is perfect for a couple who eats a normal amount of food. If you’re a bigger family, you might need a larger size.
Otherwise, the space it takes up, the ease of cooking, and the quality of the air fryer is perfect for us.