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Does the Instant Pot air fryer have a basket?

Air fryers have become increasingly popular in recent years as a healthy way to make crispy foods like french fries, chicken wings, and more using little to no oil. The Instant Pot brand has gotten in on the air frying craze with their own line of air fryers. But do Instant Pot air fryers have a basket like most other air fryer models? Let’s take a closer look.

How Air Fryers Work

Before getting into whether the Instant Pot air fryer has a basket, it helps to understand what makes an air fryer work in the first place. The concept is that by circulating hot air around food at high speeds, the food gets crispy and browned without needing to be submerged in oil like traditional deep frying. Most air fryers accomplish this using a small countertop convection oven design.

There is typically a heating element and fan at the top of the air fryer. This pulls in air, heats it up rapidly, and blows it back down around the food. The food sits in a perforated basket or tray. The basket allows the hot air to circulate completely around each piece of food for even cooking. This exposed heating element and rapid air circulation is what gives air fryers their signature crispy texture.

The Instant Pot Air Fryer Design

Instant Pot entered the air fryer market in 2018 with the release of their first model, the Instant Vortex. This air fryer featured a square basket design that pulled out of the front of the fryer, allowing food to cook surrounded by circulating air in all directions.

This changed in 2020 when Instant Pot released newer air fryer models like the Instant Vortex Plus. These models eliminated the traditional pull-out basket design. Instead, foods are placed directly on a flat tray or perforated cooking tray insert inside the unit.

Rather than a top heating element, these Instant Pot air fryers have heating elements around the sides and back of the cooking chamber. Multiple fans circulate the hot air around foods from all angles for crisping.

Differences Between Basket and No-Basket Designs

There are some key differences between Instant Pot air fryer models with a basket compared to the newer no-basket designs:

Basket Air Fryers No-Basket Air Fryers
Food cooked in enclosed basket Food cooked on open tray
Heating element only at top Heating elements around multiple sides
Must remove basket to check food Can visually check food during cooking
Basket and coating may need cleaning Tray is easier to clean

The no-basket models allow for more visibility as food cooks. However, some people prefer the classic basket design for keeping smaller or messy foods contained.

Instant Pot Air Fryer Models and Accessories

Instant Pot currently offers several air fryer models to choose from. Only the original Vortex air fryer has a basket design. Other models use a tray instead.

Vortex Air Fryer

The original Instant Vortex Air Fryer features a square, pull-out basket. It comes in 3, 6, and 10 quart basket sizes. The distinctive basket design sets it apart from Instant’s other air fryers.

Vortex Plus Air Fryer

The Vortex Plus line was released after the original Vortex models. These feature a flat cooking tray rather than a basket. Vortex Plus is available in 6, 8, and 10 quart sizes.

Vortex Pro Air Fryer

Instant Pot’s largest air fryer is the Vortex Pro, coming in 10 quart or 14 quart sizes. Like the Vortex Plus, it cooks food on a flat tray rather than an enclosed basket.


While the newer Instant Pot air fryers don’t have a basket, there are some accessories available that mimic some of the functionality of a basket:

  • Air fryer liner – Nonstick silicone liner or cooking bag wraps food to contain mess.
  • Air fryer inserts – Stainless steel inserts or silicone pans fit inside tray to hold certain foods.
  • Mesh air fryer basket – Addition basket inserts food into cooking chamber.

These accessories can help organize messy ingredients or contain small pieces of food. However, most Instant Pot air fryer models do not come with a traditional pull-out basket included.

Advantages of the No-Basket Design

While the pull-out basket of the original Vortex air fryer was popular, Instant Pot decided to move away from that traditional design in subsequent models. There are a few good reasons for the shift to a no-basket air fryer style:

More Visibility

A benefit of cooking food directly on a flat tray rather than in an enclosed basket is that you can see the food as it cooks. The older basket models obscured the food once the basket was inserted into the cooking chamber. The open tray design lets you monitor doneness and easily toss or flip food during air frying.

Larger Capacity

With no basket taking up room, the newest Instant Pot air fryers have been able to increase their capacity. The largest Vortex Pro models can hold up to 14 quarts of food. That’s enough to cook larger batches or bigger cuts of meat.

Easier to Clean

Over time, grease and crumbs can build up on wire basket air fryer inserts. The trays in Instant’s no-basket fryers are generally dishwasher safe and easier to clean. There are also fewer nooks and crannies for food debris to get stuck.

More Versatility

The open tray design isn’t restricted to air frying in the same way a basket is. Removing the tray allows you to roast large cuts of meat, bake casseroles, broil, dehydrate fruits and vegetables, and more. The cooking chamber transforms into a versatile multi-cooker rather than just an air fryer.

Downsides to the No-Basket Design

While Instant Pot’s newer air fryers offer some nice benefits, the lack of a basket also comes with a few drawbacks:

Small Foods Can Fall Through

One challenge with the no-basket models is that small or battered foods can fall through the tray’s holes. Fries, mozzarella sticks, and other petite foods won’t be contained like they would be in a basket.

Harder to Shake and Toss Foods

You’ll need to open the air fryer to toss and shake foods while they cook. With a basket, you can simply shake the entire basket. So there’s some added inconvenience.

Less Range in Models

There is only one current Instant Pot air fryer with the traditional basket design, while most models have done away with the basket. So there are fewer options if you know you prefer an enclosed basket.

Should You Get an Air Fryer With or Without a Basket?

If you’re trying to decide between an Instant Pot air fryer with a basket or without, here are some things to consider:

What you’ll be cooking –

The enclosed basket is better for small, battered foods like chicken nuggets. The open tray works well for roasting vegetables or cooking large batches.

How often you’ll be shaking foods –

You’ll need to open the fryer more often to toss foods if there’s no basket. The basket makes shaking easier.

How much visibility you want –

The open tray gives you a better view of your food as it cooks compared to a closed off basket.

How much convenience you want cleaning –

A removable tray is typically easier to clean and dishwasher safe. Baskets have more nooks and crannies.

Available features and capacity –

The newer no-basket models include larger capacities and more cooking features. But there are fewer basket options.


In summary, only the original Instant Vortex air fryers have a pull-out basket design. Newer Instant Pot air fryer models utilize an open tray instead of an enclosed basket. There are pros and cons to each approach. Baskets contain food better and simplify shaking. Open trays provide more visibility, easier cleaning, and greater versatility in cooking. Consider what and how you’ll cook before deciding between a basket or no-basket air fryer.