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9 best chimineas that take the chill out of alfresco evenings

Keep warm and cosy after the sun has set with these clay, steel and iron heaters

Ali Howard
Friday 18 March 2022 17:24
<p>We looked for how easy they were to light up, and how toasty and warm they stayed</p>

We looked for how easy they were to light up, and how toasty and warm they stayed

With spring in the air, there’s also the promise of outdoor entertaining. But even the sunniest days can feel decidedly fresh at this time of year.

If, like us, you’re keen to get out into the garden as soon as possible, you’d be wise to add a stylish chiminea to your patio set-up.

These freestanding, portable outdoor fires have design roots in central America, and while many contemporary styles have been given a stark redesign, they all aim to achieve the same result in functionality: keeping us toasty warm with a crackling fire whilst directing smoke up and away.

Whether you plump for a traditional Mexican style clay patio heater, or a striking and imposing contemporary piece in matte black steel, a chiminea promises to be gamechanger for chilly al fresco evenings.

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How we tested

We tried our heaters out on the patio looking for user friendly design: how easily and quickly we could light a fire, how long the fire lasted, and for each chiminea, the overall heat output depending on the size of the product.

We tested them in terms of sturdiness and weight, quality of craftsmanship and materials, and whether traditional or contemporary in design, if they would offer a big impact on the style front.

The best chimineas for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – Dakota Fields Hendry steel chiminea: £219.99, Wayfair.co.uk
  • Best clay chiminea – La Hacienda star flower medium chimenea, straw: £109.99, Robertdyas.co.uk
  • Best decorative design - Cook King Havana decorative stove: £289, Hayesgardenworld.co.uk
  • Best compact patio heater – Garden Leisure garden steel chiminea: £99.99, Notonthehighstreet.com
  • Best contemporary design – Made Kolsa tall chiminea, black: £225, Made.com
  • Best for larger gatherings – Garden Trading Sarsden chiminea: £280, Gardentrading.co.uk
  • Best for quick heating – Deuba cast iron chiminea: £114.95, Manomano.co.uk
  • Best for smoke-free soirees – La Hacienda Monterrey chimenea: £120, Homebase.co.uk
  • Best thoughtful design – LG outdoor casa mia alto gas-powered chiminea, matt black: £329, Johnlewis.com

Dakota Fields Hendry steel chiminea

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

Dimensions: H 122cm x W 37cm x D 37cm

We loved this striking, contemporary, architectural chiminea, which demands centre stage on the terrace. It’s crafted from raw hand-welded, heavy gauge steel and comes in two finishes: black or corten, which brings with it a wonderfully warm and textured rusty hue. The weathered surface promises to age beautifully and even regenerate once exposed to the elements and over time. Simple but stylish in design, the outdoor wood burner boasts an integrated log storage space and a generous and easily accessible fire pit.

La Hacienda star flower medium chimenea, straw

Best: Clay chiminea

Rating: 8/10

Dimensions: H 85cm x W 36cm x D 36cm

If you’re after a traditional chiminea, this one is bursting with rustic charm. Hand-crafted and hand-painted, the piece features decorative bands of five-pointed borage flowers, otherwise known as the star flower of Mexico. In a light hued natural clay, the piece is particularly suited to smaller patio spaces where darker products might overwhelm. The lidded chimenea sits on top of a sturdy, three-legged steel stand and offers easy access to its generous fire base. It’s worth noting that traditional clay chimineas only work with wood as charcoal can overheat the material, which causes it to shatter.

Cook King Havana decorative stove

Best: Decorative design

Rating: 9/10

Dimensions: H 108cm x W 50cm x D 33cm

This is a stylish modern take on a classic black chiminea with its decorative cut-out design. Featuring a built-in base, the piece sits low but that doesn’t detract from its overall height. In fact, at over 100cm tall, this is one imposing patio piece. Crafted from steel, it is also reliably weighty. We loved the way the flickering flames can be seen through the swirling pattern, and of course the heat escapes through the cut-outs, too. Cleverly, the flat top can double as a cooking stove if you use a small, cast iron pot or frying pan.

Garden Leisure garden steel chiminea

Best: Compact patio heater

Rating: 9/10

Dimensions: H 72cm x W 36cm x D 36cm

This is a compact chiminea with its rounded belly, integrated legs and short chimney. It’s also fuss-free and timeless in design. The lidded patio heater features a steel body, which is supported by robust cast iron legs, and it is finished in either matte black or pewter. Despite its stubby appearance, the chiminea boasts a fire pit of generous capacity, as well as a handy rain lid and a protective mesh door, which keeps the spits and sputters to a minimum. Giving off a decent level of heat for smaller gardens, it makes for a cosy companion.

Made Kolsa tall chiminea, black

Best: Contemporary design

Rating: 8/10

Dimensions: H 119cm x W 50cm x D 50cm

If you want to keep toasty warm outside but don’t want a traditional fussy chiminea upsetting the clean contemporary lines of your patio set, this one’s for you. Beautifully designed and finished in a chic matte black, the prism-shaped wood burner gives the illusion of being crafted from a single piece of steel with its uninterrupted shaping. Slender, lofty and imposing, the chiminea boasts a large and super simple to use opening for lighting up the logs. A stylish and functional statement piece.

Garden Trading Sarsden chiminea

Best: For larger gatherings

Rating: 9/10

Dimensions: H 160cm x W 70cm x D 70cm

This is by far the biggest chiminea in our roundup, and therefore one for larger patio spaces. The Sarsden is bursting with character, thanks to its classic shaping complete with tall chimney and its trio of curved legs. But in powder-coated matte back steel, the piece feels fresh and contemporary. Designed to be used with wood or charcoal, the chiminea includes a handy grill, which separates the logs from the ashes, and it comes with small drainage holes in the base. Thanks to its size, this one kept us toasty for hours.

Deuba cast iron chiminea

Best: For quick heating

Rating: 8/10

Dimensions: H 112cm x W 44cm x D 44cm

Crafted from cast iron and finished with black textured brushstrokes for a rustic, weathered look, this chiminea is all about traditional charm. The log burner boasts an adjustable air vent, a removable lid, and a mesh door for safety. We found its tall chimney ensures smoke is kept away from those seated near it, while it offered cosy warmth all-round. It also heats up quickly, thanks to its material, a bonus if you’re impatient to get the garden party started.

La Hacienda Monterrey chimenea

Best: For smoke-free soirees

Rating: 8/10

Dimensions: H 123cm x W 50cm x D 50cm

This is another traditional style chiminea from La Hacienda, only this one is fashioned from painted steel with heavy, integrated cast iron legs to keep it firmly in place on the patio. Generous in both height and width, the heater boasts a steel log grate, a nifty rain lid, and a mesh door to keep flames enclosed and to encourage smoke to go up, not out. With its rounded body and tall chimney, this one is functional and stylish in equal measure.

LG outdoor casa mia alto gas-powered chiminea, matt black

Best: Thoughtful design

Rating: 9/10

Dimensions: H 129.5cm x W 53cm x D 53cm

We loved this chiminea for its contemporary shaping. But its triangular design is not only for aesthetic value. Tall but low sitting, the wood burner is designed to keep those gathered round it wonderfully warm, thanks to its large opening, yet with its tall chimney, smoke is directed upwards and well away from garden party guests. This one’s made from a durable steel, and its matte black finish further adds to its cool, contemporary appeal.

The verdict: Chimineas

We loved Dakota Fields’ Hendry steel chiminea first and foremost for its striking and imposing design. In the Corten finish, it offers a lovely rusty texture, and it promises to age beautifully over time. But this is a well-designed chiminea for functionality, too, with its tall prism-like shaping that directs the smoke away, and its large internal fire pit.

We were also impressed with LG’s casa mia for its chic contemporary shaping, its thoughtful design, and its generous heat output.

Voucher codes

For the latest discounts on garden furniture and other outdoor essentials, try the links below:

Fire up for warmer evenings with the best BBQ cookbooks to nail cooking over flames, or the best fire pits for a nighttime glow in the garden

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