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Instant Pot expands into air fryers with the $120 multifunction Instant Vortex Plus

The company turns its cooking prowess to a countertop oven-air fryer combo.

instant-pot-vortex-1
Chris Monroe/CNET

The newest kitchen gadget from the makers of the Instant Pot has an impressive seven cooking modes designed to serve up meals like a rotisserie chicken, as well as snacks like mozzarella sticks and french fries. The Instant Vortex Plus is an air fryer with a sizable capacity. In addition to the usual options, the Vortex includes extra presets like a dehydrate option for homemade jerky.

The Instant Vortex Plus launched on Monday at Walmart. You can buy it now for $119. According to Instant Brands, the Vortex will roll out to other major retailers within the next couple of weeks. It holds 10 quarts of food. While it's primarily an air fryer, six other cooking presets mean it can roast, broil, bake, reheat and dehydrate, plus there's an option to rotate the included rotisserie spit. 

"We're really excited to deliver a new product that gives our consumers the amazing deep fried taste without compromise," said Katie Whiting, Instant Brands Marketing Director in a statement emailed to CNET. "They can create healthier versions of their favorite dishes and do so in a fast, easy and convenient way."

The Instant Pot pressure cooker gained popularity thanks to its versatility. The different cooking modes let you whip up a wide variety of delicious meals. When we tested air fryers last year, we found them to be more limited. They're functionally just convection ovens shrunk down for your countertop, but the more focused heat of the smaller body supposedly makes them perfect for snack foods. We did have some tasty pizza rolls during testing, but still found it hard to get excited about any model.

At the very least, the Instant Vortex still includes enough modes to be versatile. The $119 price is also reasonable, though our favorite Simple Chef model from a year ago is just $60 on Amazon right now. 

Part of our hesitation with air fryers was how poorly they stacked up to an actual Instant Pot. It'll be interesting to see if the makers of the popular gadget can do better where the others faltered. 

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Update, 8:12 a.m. PT: Added quote from Instant Brands' Katie Whiting and a new image.