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8 best chimineas for garden gatherings after the sun goes down

Keep warm and cosy al fresco, with these clay, steel and iron heaters

Ali Howard
Tuesday 02 April 2024 10:05
These classic pot-bellied designs date back to ancient Mexico
These classic pot-bellied designs date back to ancient Mexico (The Independent/ iStock)
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With summer just around the corner, naturally, our minds turn to al fresco entertaining. We’ve got the garden furniture, the barbecue setup, and the outdoor lighting sorted but, even on the warmest days, our patio space can feel decidedly fresh once the sun goes down. However, a top-rated chiminea makes for a stylish, functional and versatile outdoor fireplace that bring warmth and ambience to al fresco soirées.

The freestanding, portable heater has its design roots in central America. While many contemporary styles have been given a stark redesign, they all aim to achieve the same result: keeping us toasty warm with a crackling fire, while safely directing smoke up and away.

Most modern designs are crafted from a hard-wearing steel and feature a generously sized and user-friendly opening for fuel. Some boast additional storage for logs, too. If you’re in the market for a traditional clay crafted chiminea, these classic pot-bellied designs prove surprisingly effective, considering they date back to ancient Mexico, where they were used for cooking and heating.

Whether you go traditional or you plump for an imposing contemporary patio piece, your chiminea will require care and maintenance. Consider how easy it will be to clean the void of the chiminea, and think about materials, too. Some are best covered when not in use, while others are designed to be left out in the elements, gaining a characterful patina over time. It’s also worth mentioning each product will have its own recommendations on the best types of fuel to use.

Keep reading to discover our pick of the best chimineas on the market.

How we tested the best chimineas

We tested a range of outdoor heaters, looking for user-friendly design as well as considering how easily and quickly we could light a fire, how long the fire lasted, and the overall heat (and light) output, depending on the size of the product. We tested each chiminea in terms of sturdiness and weight, quality of craftsmanship and materials, too. We also looked at the overall designs, and whether they offered a big impact on the style front.

The best chimineas for 2024 are:

  • Best chiminea overall – Atkin and Thyme Primo wood-burning chiminea: £299,
  • Best budget chiminea – La Hacienda Venezuela clay chiminea: £70,
  • Best traditional chiminea – Gardenco Colima X-large chiminea: £214.99,
  • Best tear-shaped chiminea – Cuckooland Cooper gold and carbon tear outdoor fireplace: £399.95,

Atkin and Thyme Primo wood-burning chiminea

Atkin and Thyme Primo wood-burning chiminea.png
  • Best: Chiminea overall
  • Dimensions: H 150cm x W 47.8cm x D 47.8cm
  • Assembly: Simple assembly required
  • Fuel type: Wood
  • Material: Powder coated steel
  • Why we love it
    • Built-in storage
    • Keeps smoke away

This contemporary outdoor wood burner is an imposing presence on the patio, thanks to its jet-black colourway and lofty dimensions. At 150cm in height, it demands attention. The Primo is well-crafted from high-quality powder-coated steel, and features a handy wood storage compartment at its base.

Of course, this is an aesthetic addition as much as a practical one, with chopped wood or logs on display in all their rustic charm. Thanks to its tall, cylindrical design, the chiminea directs smoke upwards and away from garden party guests, which we found goes a long way in protecting clothes from lingering smoky odours.

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La Hacienda Venezuela clay chiminea

La Hacienda Venezuela clay chiminea.png
  • Best: Budget chiminea
  • Dimensions: H 70cm x W 29.5cm x D 29.5cm
  • Assembly: Not required
  • Fuel type: Untreated wood and logs and easylogs
  • Material: Clay
  • Why we love it
    • Looks great
    • Simple and easy to use
  • Take note
    • On the small side

If you’re after a traditional chiminea with South American design roots, this lidded number hits all the right notes. The Venezuela is crafted from clay, and boasts a simple and easy-to-use shape, with its rounded open belly and its classic bottle neck – we loved the addition of the geometric leaf motif in contrasting charcoal.

The outdoor burner may be on the smaller side, especially when compared with its imposing contemporary counterparts, but it is elevated off the ground via a simple but sturdy metal tripod frame, which encourages smoke to escape upwards, not outwards. Pop the rain lid on when not in use to keep the interior from getting soggy.

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Cuckooland Cooper gold and carbon tear outdoor fireplace

Cuckooland Cooper gold & carbon tear outdoor fireplace.png
  • Best: Tear-shaped chiminea
  • Dimensions: H 120cm x W 46cm x D 46cm
  • Assembly: Not required
  • Fuel type: Wood
  • Material: Steel
  • Why we love it
    • Cool contemporary design
    • Slimline

A contemporary take on the classic chiminea, this striking tear-shaped design proved a hit on our patio space. It is made from premium-quality steel with both frost-proof and UV resistance, and it boasts a smooth, almost-black finish, which is offset with a glamorous flash of gold on the base.

While the voluptuous Cooper is undeniably stylish, its design is altogether practical, too. Thanks to its continuous form, the whole chiminea heats up efficiently, and quickly emanates warmth and light. Its slimline design makes it ideal as a space-saver for smaller patios, yet it is plenty tall enough to direct the smoke up and away.

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Kilauea steel chiminea with log store

Kilauea steel chiminea with log store.png
  • Best: Chiminea for log storage
  • Dimensions: H 125cm x W 45cm x D 45cm
  • Assembly: Minimal assembly required
  • Fuel type: Wood
  • Material: Steel
  • Why we love it
    • Generous built-in storage space
    • Reliably rain proof

This is another sizeable, industrial-style chiminea that boasts a generous opening for cosy warmth, light, and watching the flames move. It also has substantial storage space for keeping logs both dry and accessible. Thanks to its integrated, peaked rain lid, the steel chiminea is kept reliably dry without you having to remember a separate piece, which is ideal for unexpected showers that threaten to spoil the party. The Kilauea demands attention, and a fair bit of space, but it will be your friend long after the sun goes down.

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Gardenco Colima X-large chiminea

Gardenco Colima x-large chiminea.png
  • Best: Traditional chiminea
  • Dimensions: H 125cm x W 55cm x D 55cm
  • Assembly: No assembly required
  • Fuel type: Wood
  • Material: Clay
  • Why we love it
    • Traditional style
    • Hand-crafted
    • Impressively warm

While most traditional-style chimineas are diminutive in form, this one boasts dimensions to rival any of its contemporary counterparts. One for purists, the extra-large Colima has been hand-crafted and hand-painted in Mexico and features a classic wide belly with a generous opening, a tall chimney, separate rain lid, and a decorative but sturdy steel stand. As with any clay chiminea, the material itself absorbs heat and acts as a radiator, emanating an impressive amount of warmth. For all its artisanal charm, this one proves an efficient patio heater, too.

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Cook King Havana decorative stove chiminea

Cook King Havana decorative stove.png
  • Best: Multi-functional chiminea
  • Dimensions: H 108cm x W 33cm x D 50cm
  • Assembly: Not required
  • Fuel type: Wood
  • Material: Steel
  • Why we love it
    • Stylish modern take
    • Sturdy

With its decorative cut-out design, this is a stylish modern take on a classic black chiminea. The Havana features a chunky built-in base, making it sit low, but this doesn’t detract from its overall height. In fact, at more than 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 as well as the circular void. Thanks to its generous depth, the flat top can double as a cooking stove if you use a small, cast iron pot or frying pan.

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Graham & Green oxidised rust log burner chiminea

Graham and Green oxidised rust log burner.png
  • Best: Rustic chiminea
  • Dimensions: H 140cm x W 38cm x D 38cm
  • Assembly: No assembly required
  • Fuel type: Wood
  • Material: Mild steel
  • Why we love it
    • Rustic charm
    • Integrated rain lid
    • Practical and stylish

Bringing rustic charm by the bucket-load is this oxidised number from Graham & Green. Industrial and angular in design, the tall chiminea features integrated log storage, as well as a handy integrated rain lid, making it practical as well as stylish. The imposing patio heater boasts an attractive all-over patina that gives it a rich visual texture. It looks every bit a back garden relic from the get-go but it promises to age beautifully over time, too. We loved its simple functionality and its fashionable finish.

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Deuba cast iron chiminea

Deuba cast iron chiminea indybest.jpg
  • Best: For quick heating
  • Dimensions: H 112cm x W 44cm x D 44cm
  • Assembly: Minimal assembly required
  • Fuel type: Wood
  • Material: Cast iron
  • Why we love it
    • Traditional charm
    • Smoke kept away easily

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.

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The verdict: Chimineas

Atkin & Thyme’s Primo wood-burning chiminea proved a much-loved talking point on our patio space. It is imposing and contemporary in design but it is practical, too, with its extra height keeping the smoke away from garden party guests. We also loved its handy storage compartment for logs.

On the traditional side, we were also impressed with Gardenco’s Colima X-large chiminea due to its substantial size and charming artisanal makeup.

Planning an al fresco get-together? Check out our guide to the best outdoor pizza ovens

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