Ninja vs Instant – who made better air fryers in our tests?

Our experts have settled the Ninja vs Instant debate. We've tested them, so we can use our results to find out which is best.

One of the products to consider in Ninja vs Instant, the Instant Vortex Dual Plus making roast potatoes and stuffed peppers.
(Image credit: Instant)

In the Ninja vs Instant debate, the discriminators are often tiny. These are the best air fryers on the market. They're versatile, durable, and exceptional value. Choosing to use one is each, but deciding which one you need might be a little trickier.

Our team of expert testers have taken all these air fryers and multicookers to our test kitchen. Here, we put them through their paces, scrutinising every aspect of the appliance. 

All the models we dissect below made it into our roundup of best air fryers, but they're brilliant for different reasons and better suited to different homes. Here's what the experts think of the great Ninja vs Instant debate.

Instant Vortex Dual Plus vs Ninja 6-in-1 Dual

Ninja 6-in-1 Dual basket air fryer

(Image credit: Ninja)

Winner: Instant Vortex Plus Dual

These powerhouses are close to perfect. We have to really love a product to give it full marks, because that means that we don't believe there's anything better out there. Such a distinction is rare to find at H&G, but the Instant Vortex Dual Plus earned it. It's the larger version of the greatest air fryer in the world. It's easy to use, gets rid of frying smells and has a handy clear window so you can check on your food without having to open the drawer.

However, the Ninja Foodi almost scored top marks, and it's actually the one that lots of our expert testers own and love. If you're trying to decide between the two, here's everything you need to know:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 NinjaInstant
Dimensions15.63 L x 13.86 W x 12.4 H17.8 x 17.5 x 14.8 inches
Capacity8 Quarts8 Quarts
SettingsAir broil, air fry, roast, reheat, dehydrate, and bakeAir fry, roast, broil, bake, reheat, and dehydrate
CleaningRemovable parts are dishwasher-safeNonstick tray and basket, dishwasher-safe insert
Temperature range105°F–450°F95-400°F
RRP from brand$249.99$179.95

Instant Vortex Slim vs Ninja Max XL

Instant Vortex Slim Air Fryer

(Image credit: Instant)

Winner: Instant Vortex Slim 

If you're short on space and still air fryer obsessed, there are plenty of compact options on the market. These are, of course, two of the best. Again, they earned a spot in our air fryers buying guide, but for different reasons: the Ninja is our favorite compact air fryer and the Instant is our favorite slim air fryer. Whilst compact and slim fall into a similar lexical fields, those who live in small spaces will know that there are key differences between the two. On balance, the Instant has a better performance, but the Ninja could be a btetter choice if you're really tight on space.  Here's everything you need to know to decide which petite powerhouse you want to feature on your countertops.

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Header Cell - Column 0 NinjaInstant
Dimensions8.5 x 12.1 x 11 inches12.01 x 15.3' x 12.72 inches
Capacity5.5 Quarts6 Quarts
SettingsMax Crisp, Air Fry, Roast, Air Broil, Bake, Reheat, and DehydrateAir Broil, Air fry, Bake, Broil, Reheat, Stir Fry, Roast, Reheat, Dehydrate
CleaningNonstick and dishwasher-safe baskets and insertsRemovable parts are dishwasher-safe
Temperature range105°F–450°F120 - 400°F
RRP from brand$169.99$119.99

Instant Pot Duo vs Ninja Foodi Multicooker

Ninja Foodi Multicooker

(Image credit: Ninja)

Winner: Instant Pot Duo Crisp with Ultimate Lid

Much more versatile than air fryers, multicookers can cover a lot of functions. There's no guarantee that they'll air fry, nor is there any guarantee that they will air fry well, but both the Ninja and the Instant are experts across the board. In fact, we loved the Instant Multicooker so much that it's above lots of air fryers in our buying guide to the best air fryers. If that doesn't tell you enough, here are all the details you need to know about both appliances.

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Header Cell - Column 0 NinjaInstant
Dimensions15.39 x 14.21 x 14.25 inches13.4 x 15.4 x 15.5 inches
Capacity8 qt6.5 qt
SettingsPressure Cook, Steam & Crisp, Steam & Bake, Air Fry, Broil, Bake, Roast, Dehydrate, Proof, Sear, Steam Souse Vide, Slow Cook, Yogurt, Keep WarmPressure Cook, Sauté, Steam, Slow Cook, Sous Vide, Yogurt, Warm, Air Fry, Roast, Broil, Bake, Dehydrate, Proofing
CleaningYesHandwash only
Temperature range105–450°F180-400°F
RRP from brand$349.99$199.99


Is Instant better than Ninja?

It's difficult to say that one brand is better than the other without accounting for context. Instant tends to be better value, but Ninja is often more dishwasher friendly and quick. We've gone into more detail about the nuances and features of each appliance.

Is Ninja worth more money?

This is product dependent. Ninja makes excellent appliances and, in some instances, they offer extra functions that you might find useful. However, in many instances, Instant offers better value.

Who makes the best air fryer?

Our experts have tested every air fryer on the market and put the Instant Vortex Plus at the top of the list. It boasts incredible value, performance, and quality. However, different homes need air fryers with different functions, so make sure to look at our guide to find the best air fryer for your kitchen.

Final thoughts

Instant tends to offer the cheaper option to comparative Ninja models. If you're looking for capacity, Instant Vortex's Dual Plus is a better option. Not only is it cheaper, it's more consistent and intuitive to use. For those short on space, the Ninja Max XL offers better performance, but is again more expensive. And, if you're interested in a multicooker, the Instant Pot Duo is better at air frying, smaller, and cheaper. You won't go wrong with any of these models though.

How we test

how we test air fryers

(Image credit: Future/Millie Fender)

At Homes & Gardens we take our tests seriously. That's why we won't recommend a product until our experts have put it though its paces in our test kitchen. We've tested the Instant and Ninja products recommended here and they're in our buying guide for best air fryers already. If you want to know all the details about how we test, you can visit our dedicated page.

Laura Honey
eCommerce Editor

Laura is our eCommerce editor. As a fully qualified barista, she's our expert in all things coffee and has tested over thirty of the best coffee makers on the market. She has also interviewed Q-Graders and world-leading experts in the coffee industry, so has an intimate knowledge of all things coffee. Before joining Homes & Gardens, she studied English at Oxford University. Whilst studying, she trained as a master perfumer and worked in the luxury fragrance industry for five years. Her collection of home fragrance is extensive and she's met and interviewed five of the world's finest perfumers (also known as 'noses'). As a result of this expansive fragrance knowledge, she always puts quality and style over quantity and fads. Laura looks for products which have been designed simply and with thoughtful finishes.