As described in the Wikipedia article, a chip pan is a pan that contains oil for frying. The oil is heated to a high temperature, and then usually a metal basket is lowered into the pan for frying of things, such as chips.

The article contains this sentence:

Chip pans are commonly used in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, although are slowly being outmoded by deep fryers.
Chip pan

When I look up the article for deep fryer on Wikipedia, it described what seems to me to be the same thing:

Deep fryers generally have a basket to lower the food into the oil tank and raise it when the food has finished cooking.
Deep fryer

These descriptions appear to be the same to me, are there any differences between the two that I don't understand?

  • 2
    Let me quote from the first article you linked: "Chip pans are well known for being a fire hazard. ... By comparison, electric deep fryers feature circuitry ... that prevent the oil from being heated to the point of ignition. ... Chip pans are the most common cause of house fires in the United Kingdom ... British Fire Brigades frequently issue warnings ... to switch to a safer means of cooking chips"
    – Alexander
    Jun 20, 2019 at 11:23

1 Answer 1


The part that handles the food is comparable, as you noted: A container for the hot oil plus a basket to lift the food out again.

But the difference is in the periphery:

A chip pan is just a pan (or what you may also call a pot), but the heating is done on the stove, like for all other pots.

A deep fryer has its own heating system, either via a heated thick wire in the container or by heating the exterior walls. It’s an independent unit and actually shouldn’t be placed on a stove for various reasons. It typically has an insulated exterior and often a lid to minimize splattering and keep the oil from dirtying up the kitchen. If you see a built in fryer in a commercial kitchen setup, it’s still a separate unit.

  • 1
    Hmm, when I do a google image search for chip pan I see many have covers. However the insulation and heat source differences I totally agree with. Deep fryers nearly never use a stove as a heat source, as far as I know (or do they?). Thanks.
    – Zebrafish
    Jun 19, 2019 at 13:52
  • 4
    @Zebrafish in commercial kitchens a fryer is a fixed unit that seems „part“ of a stove, but still with an own heater. The covers of chip pans are like regular lids, home fryers typically have insulated lids, sometimes with a venting/filter system. In short, one is a basic setup, the other a classic unitasker with all the extras. Like cooking eggs or rice in a pot vs a specific egg or rice cooker.
    – Stephie
    Jun 19, 2019 at 14:22

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