I have reviewed dozens of air fryers over the years, but it's the Instant Vortex Mini 4-in-1 Air Fryer that I keep in my kitchen. This is the smallest and potentially the cheapest air fryer I've tried, but it looks the part of a more premium product with four fun colors and a tactile control panel.
This Instant Vortex Mini 4-in-1 Air Fryer review is the product of a year of testing. Although I've also compared it to many of the best air fryers directly by using this air fryer in the Real Homes test kitchen, I've also got one at home that gets used on a daily basis. This means I can speak to its versatility and also its longevity.
In this Instant Vortex Mini 4-in-1 Air Fryer review I put it to the test by making homemade fries, roasting salmon and vegetables, and cooking bacon alongside a range of market-leading air fryers from Ninja, Breville and Instant's latest Dual Air Fryer launch. Here's how it held up.
Instant Vortex Mini 4-in-1 Air Fryer specs
- Capacity: 2 quarts / 2 litres
- Weight: 11.26'' length x 9.02'' wide x 11.73'' height
- Settings: Air fry, bake, roast, reheat
- Comes with: Instruction booklet, removable air fry insert
- Power: 1300 watts
- RRP: $59.95/£59.99
The Instant Vortex Mini is a small air fryer, so the box was quite light and easy to move. It was packed between two layers of non-recyclable styrofoam packaging, which was quite disappointing, and the insert and instruction manual comes in a layer of single-use plastic which also feels unnecessary.
Once it's out of the box, the air fryer is very lightweight indeed. It is only nine inches wide, meaning it should fit into just about any kitchen without taking up too much space. I tried it in white, which is a lovely color for those with minimalist-style kitchens, but it also comes in black, red, and a baby blue.
Once plugged in the air fryer control panel will illuminate. There are four settings: air fry, roast, bake, and reheat. In my year of using the air fryer I've made the most use of the air fry setting, but reheat is also very useful for replacing a microwave.
The air fryer can go up to 400°F or 205°C, which is lower than alternatives from Ninja which can go up to 460°F, or 240°C. However, it does let you go up in degree increments as opposed to five degrees at a time, and you can do this easily by pressing the temperature button and then turning the tactile dial at the top of the air fryer to add or remove both heat and time from your cooking setting.
This air fryer has a simple basket-style design. The handle to the basket never gets warm to touch, and its removable insert which elevates food to allow air to circulate throughout the cooking chamber stays put securely to prevent it from tipping out when you pour food out from the basket onto your plate.
The insert is coated in a durable non-stick coating, and the inside of the basket has this as well. If you were re-heating something with some sauce (a mac and cheese, for example) you could easily remove the air fry insert and scoop some into the air fryer to achieve that crispy top on your pasta without an oven or microwave.
The insert also has a hook-style handle in the center that's designed to make removing the insert easy, even if it's warm touch.
When testing the Instant Vortex Mini I also pitted it against other air fryers from Instant and Ninja to see how quickly it could make homemade fries. I used a standard measure of 14oz in the other air fryers I tested, but given the significantly smaller capacity of the Instant Vortex Mini, this didn't feel like a fair test, so I added seven ounces to the basket.
This is enough for two small servings of fries, which is probably the amount you'd be likely to attempt to make in this air fryer. It's not designed with families in mind. In the past I have tried to cram more fries into this air fryer, and it has struggled to cook them evenly because they get quite compacted into the basker.
The fries took 19 minutes to come to the perfect consistency for me. This doesn't include the minute-or-so it took to pre-heat, which meant it finished slightly later than the Ninja air fryers.
Where this air fryer continually impresses me is how evenly it cooks. As with all Instant air fryers, it pre-heats and alerts you when you need to shake your fries midway through cooking. This is an important part of achieving evenly-crisped fries, so it's nice to be reminded.
The Instant Vortex Mini is part of an older generation of Instant's air fryer lineup. The latest editions will come with a much more enjoyable alert to tell you when your food is ready. Still, there is nothing wrong with the old one.
Roasting in the Instant Vortex Mini
Many air fryers come with modes to do everything from baking to dehydrating. The Instant Vortex Mini is a 4-in-1 air fryer, meaning it's done away with a few of the extra modes you'll find on the Instant Vortex Plus. This air fryer can broil and also dehydrate, but even when I have tried air fryers that can do this, I've rarely had a use for these settings.
Roasting is one of the four settings that comes with the Instant Vortex Mini, so I roasted some asparagus and salmon to try this setting.
To do this I first added my salmon for five minutes and then added some asparagus for the final five minutes. I made a serving for one but the air fryer would (just about) accommodate a serving for two.
After ten minutes my salmon was full cooked - in fact, it was ever so slightly over, and my asparagus was crisp but not burnt. This is definitely one of the easiest dinners you can make in an air fryer, and I could tell that the roast setting had helped in creating that sear at the top of the salmon fillet.
When testing air fryers I cook rashers of bacon at high temperature to see how quickly the air fryer can cook the bacon, and how evenly the fat renders.
Some air fryers have a very powerful fan that can blow rashers around the inside of the cooking basket. The Instant Vortex Mini 4-in-1 Air Fryer doesn't have this issue, possibly because it is such a small fryer.
My bacon was cooked after 7 minutes, which is longer than in the Ninja MAX air fryer on its MAX Crisp mode. This is unsurprising given how much higher the cooking temperature is on this air fryer, so if speed is your only concern you may find the 400 degree limit a little frustrating.
With particularly long rashers of bacon, I would worry that the Instant Vortex Mini 4-in-1 Air Fryer would come up a little short. The basket is quite small, so you may have to cut your bacon in half if you want to get an even spread across the basket. However, the bacon I used fitted perfectly into the air fryer, and I managed to cook four rashers in one go.
I tend to leave my appliances plugged into my power socket so that they're ready to go whenever I need them. Because of this, I've noticed that the control panel never fully shuts off on the Instant Vortex Mini 4-in-1 Air Fryer. Even when it is not running, the air fryer display reads 'OFF', which feels a bit unnecessary. It's not a loud air fryer, but you'd know if it was on!
The air fryer remembers your last used settings after every use, which is good if you cook a lot of the same dishes.
Despite its touch controls, the Instant Vortex Mini 4-in-1 Air Fryer display does not smudge easily. I've rarely had to wipe it clean, and it continues to look pristine after a year of use. The basket and removable insert can both go through the dishwasher, but they are also very easy to clean by hand.
Should you buy the Instant Vortex Mini 4-in-1 Air Fryer?
The Instant Vortex Mini 4-in-1 Air Fryer is a no-nonsense, compact air fryer that will get the job done if you're cooking for one or two people. If you want a family-friendly air fryer, I'd recommend giving the Instant Vortex Plus Air Fryer review or the Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer review a read.
If you want the best looking air fryer on the market, I say you should look no further. This one comes in four colors, it's small and well-made, and the display is surprisingly high-quality given the low price. The value is outstanding.
About this review, and the reviewer
Millie Fender is an ecommerce editor at Real Homes, specializing in small appliances and all things cooking. She loves putting new products to the test, whether they're air fryers, blenders, or even pizza ovens, and her family and friends love eating the results.
Millie has a constant stream of new products waiting to be reviewed in her kitchen. It's a little snug, so if she thinks anything deserves to stay there, you know it's something special.
The Instant Vortex Mini was sent to Millie by Instant Brands, and she tested it for a prolonged period before writing this review. Millie uses her air fryer at least once a day, so it was very thoroughly put through its paces ahead of this review. Because Instant Brands kindly allowed her to keep it, she will keep this review updated as she continues to use it in her kitchen (that is, when she's not testing other air fryers!)