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8 best fire pits for entertaining in the garden, from rattan to ceramic styles

Fire up these stylish patio centrepieces when the sun goes down

Ali Howard
Monday 17 April 2023 09:53 BST
We’ve covered those using charoal and wood as well as gas for an easy roaring flame
We’ve covered those using charoal and wood as well as gas for an easy roaring flame (The Independent)
Our Top Picks

We’ve always found the crackle and glow of real flames to be mesmerising, even more so in the context of a summer soirée after the sun goes down, and preferably with a cold beverage in hand.

A well-placed fire pit can add a magical element to your garden party, but more than that, it can offer warmth and light, encouraging guests to stay a little longer. It’s worth mentioning too, that only naked flames give you that intoxicating smell, further adding to the sensorial experience, which you just don’t get with outdoor lighting or an electric heater.

While most fire pits feature a simple shallow bowl design, we’ve found some contemporary products that play with form and materials to give you a sculptural patio centrepiece that earns its place even when it’s not in use.

If you’re after a fire pit that doubles as a makeshift barbecue, there are plenty of stylish products with the option of an additional grill plate that won’t detract from the clean lines of your design-led pit.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a fuss-free solution that doesn’t involve stoking and prodding and getting your hands dirty, then a gas fire pit is your answer. Although generally much more expensive, these can prove brilliantly convenient as you can guarantee a roaring fire in no time, which is a godsend on unexpectedly chilly nights.

How we tested

We put a range of fire pits to the test, from the most basic utilitarian styles to design-led, gas-fuelled products, as well as those with multifunctional features. We weighed up affordability with quality of make, we looked at how easy each was to light, clean, and we considered whether each one made a visual impact on our patio set-up whether lit up or not.

The best fire pits for 2023 are:

  • Best overall – Fallen Fruits fire ball fire pit: £139, Aplaceforeverything.co.uk
  • Best contemporary gas fire pit – Gardenline gas fire pit: £349.99, Aldi.co.uk
  • Best compact fire pit – VonHaus black and copper fire pit: £84.99, Vonhaus.com
  • Best rattan firepit – Realglow grey coreglass rattan gas fire pit: £199.99, Amazon.co.uk

Fallen Fruits fire ball fire pit

best fire pit
  • Best: Overall
  • Dimensions: 74cm x 59cm x 59cm
  • Materials: Powder-coated steel

There’s much to love about this striking fire pit: its globular shaping makes it an instant hit on the patio, to be admired from every angle, while its slatted form ensures light and heat emanate evenly from all over. The fire ball is crafted from a powder-coated steel and boasts a wide mouth for easy filling. Thanks to its non-solid design, you can watch the wood logs burn in all their mesmerising beauty – a quality you just don’t get with trough, or bucket-like designs. This one’s also elegantly elevated off the ground with tripod legs, giving you direct warmth where you’re seated.

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Gardenline gas fire pit

best fire pit
  • Best: Contemporary gas fire pit
  • Dimensions : H 40cm x W 106cm x D 106cm
  • Materials: Stainless steel

We do love a fire pit that gives aesthetic appeal whether it’s lit or not. With its industrial chic concrete-like finish and its smooth curves, Gardenline’s offering is a sculptural patio centrepiece. It’s actually made of stainless steel and features lava rocks that glow red when they’re heated up.

As a gas fire pit, this one proves incredibly easy to use with its simple, hidden controls and cleverly concealed inner workings. It also gives you warming flames in a matter of seconds, which is handy for those early summer evenings when the temperature plummets but you want to prolong the party.

  1. £349 from Aldi.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Ivyline outdoor orion fire pit

best fire pits
  • Best: Square fire pit
  • Dimensions: H 40cm x W 62cm x D 62cm
  • Materials: Steel

Fashionably noir with glamorous metallic accents, the orion fire pit is as stylish as it is practical. Unusually square in design, it features a cube shaped steel pit in matte black that’s simply held snug within the sturdy, antique gold coloured frame – a pleasing contrast. This wood-burning fire pit is satisfyingly deep, too, giving you plenty of burn time without the hassle of continuously loading up the logs. And thanks to its shaping, it can easily double up as a makeshift barbecue with a rectangular grill plate. The orion also boasts frost resistant properties and is UV stable, both of which promise to prolong its life.

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VonHaus black and copper fire pit

best fire pits
  • Best: Compact fire pit
  • Dimensions : H 37cm x W 50cm x D 50cm
  • Materials : Steel with copper accents

Doubling up as a low-sitting barbecue, this multifunctional fire pit features a removable grill plate as well as a handy mesh cover to prevent it from spitting hot embers. Elegantly elevated with tubular legs, the matte black pit is crafted from solid steel and boasts attractive copper accents, bringing warmth in more ways than one. This one’s generously sized with a good depth, yet it’s also compact enough to move around the patio to ensure you find the perfect spot for both heat and light. It also proves reliably sturdy, is well-made, and at under £70, it is surprisingly affordable.

  1. £84 from Vonhaus.com
Prices may vary
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Homescapes cast iron low garden fire bowl

best fire pit
  • Best: Utilitarian fire pit
  • Dimensions: H 20cm x W 60cm x D 60cm
  • Materials : Cast iron

Sometimes the simplest designs are the best. This chalice-like pit from Homescapes is crafted from cast iron and boasts a fuss-free, but wholly elegant, form. The low-down wood burner can also double as a nifty barbecue if you buy the brand’s circular fire grill to go with it.

Thanks to its low-sitting design, the fire bowl is naturally sturdy with a sense that it is firmly rooted to the ground – extra security when it comes to fire safety. And thanks to the natural material, we can expect this one to adopt an attractive patina over time with exposure to the elements. Utilitarian yet stylish.

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Billy Oh 4 in 1 fire pit

best fire pit
  • Best: Multifunctional fire pit
  • Dimensions: H 55cm x W 80cm x D 80cm
  • Materials : Ceramic

With its mosaic pattern ceramic top and its curved metal legs, this decorative fire pit brings a laid-back Mediterranean vibe to the garden party. It boasts 4-in-1 functionality: a fire pit, a barbecue, an ice bucket cooler and even a handy side table when you cover the void with the inner ceramic tabletop. As a compact and relatively shallow fire pit, it’s suitable for either logs or charcoal, scoring points on versatility. It also comes with handy extras, namely a protective weather cover, a poker, and a safety mesh. All that’s needed is the Mediterranean-like weather to match.

  1. £197 from Billyoh.com
Prices may vary
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Dobbies Dakota large 80cm fire dish

best fire pit
  • Best: Large diameter fire pit
  • Dimensions : H 34cm x W 80cm x D 80cm
  • Materials : Steel

Dobbies’ raised fire dish boasts a generous diameter, allowing you to create a substantial, but safely contained fire that’ll last as long as the party does. Simple and contemporary in design, the steel fire pit features angled tubular tripod legs, which give it a decent bit of height, along with loop handles for easy manoeuvring. It’s important to remember to allow these to cool down completely before you start shifting. The clean-lined piece can be used with wood, coal or charcoal, and suited to larger patio spaces, covers far-reaching warmth, without the need to huddle ‘round.

  1. £159 from Dobbies.com
Prices may vary
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Realglow grey coreglass rattan gas fire pit

best fire pit
  • Best: Rattan fire pit
  • Dimensions: H 62cm x W 71cm x D 71cm
  • Materials: Rattan with tempered glass top

Designed to complement your wider rattan furniture collection, this woven number proves a great focal point in any patio set-up. Plinth-like in design, the gas fire pit features a tempered glass top and wind guard, attractive lava rocks, discreet controls underneath the tabletop, and a nifty opening that conceals a 5kg or 6kg gas cylinder, which needs to be bought separately. This one’s ideal if you want fuss-free flames in an instant, without getting your hands dirty. At 62cm in height, it’s also best matched with taller, more civilised patio seating.

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Fire pits FAQs

Fire pit safety tips

Keep your fire small – The larger the fire, the easier it is to get out of control, and therefore there is a bigger risk of accidents happening.

Check the weather conditions – Before you light your fire pit, check the weather, as a strong wind can blow hot, burning embers across your garden and beyond.

Have water nearby – To avoid accidents happening and to quickly reduce the damage if they do, keep a bucket of water nearby at all times.

Never leave the fire unattended – To avoid flames growing or spreading beyond your control, keep a close eye on it at all times.

Consider the location of your fire pit – When choosing where to put your fire pit, make sure there is enough space for chairs and other seating, but also don’t place it too near any branches, foliage or trees that could catch fire. As a rule of thumb, try to keep a minimum of three metres of space around it.

How to light a fire pit

It’s a good idea to put sand in first, as this should stop heat from affecting the grass below, or the fire pit itself. Then, create a mound of tinder – materials that will burn easily such as dry leaves, straw, pine cones or bark shavings – before adding a stack of kindling (dry sticks and twigs) with space for airflow.

You can then light the tinder using torch lighter (which creates a direct flame), a fire starter or some matches. You may want to opt for longer ones for ease of use and safety. Once lit, hopefully it should light the kindling too, after which you can pop your fire wood stack on top.

What should I burn in a fire pit?

Firstly, everything you burn in your fire pit needs to be dry and non-toxic, but in terms of wood type, dyer woods will create less smoke for a cleaner burn, while hardwood boasts a longer burn time. This makes kiln dried or seasoned (which has had most of its moisture removed) hardwood the best choice to go for.

What material is best for a fire pit?

Fire pits can be constructed from steel and copper to cast iron. The benefits of steel include being able to easily mould it into any shape, though your fire pit will be prone to rust over time, so be sure to purchase one that’s coated.

Copper is similarly lightweight but better at radiating heat. It is, however, more costly and requires regular maintenance.

If you’re after a more budget-friendly option, cast iron tends to be cheaper, as well as sturdy and very durable. Though a downside is its heavier, making it more difficult to manoeuvre.

The verdict: Fire pits

We loved Fallen Fruits’ striking fire ball fire pit for its simple yet effective design. It proves a real conversation starter at a garden party, not least because of its open form that allows you to see the logs burning at every angle. For a stylish gas-fuelled option, we were also impressed with Gardenline’s gas fire pit. It looks like it’s made of concrete and brings a stylish, sculptural element to the patio space, whether it’s in use or not.

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