Whether shoppers are looking for a portable heat source to extend their patio’s seasonal usage or a stylish focal point for social gatherings, a compact fuel-burning vessel known as a chiminea may just fill the bill. Although built-in outdoor fireplaces have their advantages, chimineas utilize ancient yet effective technology to project heat, plus they’re often conveniently portable. Thanks to a front-loading design and a long vertical chimney, fresh air is continually pulled into the hearth while the smoke exits through the chimney for a clean, cozy fire experience. A well-designed chiminea is safer than a traditional fire pit because it directs the flame upward, and it can also pull enough air in to eliminate the need for fire starters.
Yet with many chimineas to choose from at different price points, finding the right one can be a challenge. Low-quality versions tend to rust prematurely and begin to lose their aesthetic value after a few seasons, so use this guide to learn what to look for when shopping and read our descriptions of popular models in a variety of sizes, designs, and prices. Shoppers are likely to find the best chiminea for their purposes among our final selections.
- BEST OVERALL: Bali Outdoors Chiminea
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Hampton Bay Lokia 20″ Cast Iron Chiminea
- BEST METAL: The Blue Rooster Company Prairie Fire Chiminea
- BEST MODERN: Kelly Clarkson Home Clayton 60″ Steel Chiminea
- BEST RUSTIC: Sand & Stable Tide 70″ Steel Chiminea
- BEST GAS: Cuisinart Chiminea Propane Fire Pit
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Chiminea
One of the best benefits of a chiminea over a traditional fireplace is its enhanced design and portability. Primary considerations include which style will suit the space and where the owner intends to keep it. Once buyers have a general idea of those factors, they will want to keep materials, size, and fuel type in mind as they make their decision.
Chimineas come in a variety of materials, including terra cotta, clay, and tile for a natural vibe, as well as steel, cast iron, aluminum, and even hammered copper to suit everything from rustic to modern aesthetics. Those interested in a traditional look will want to consider clay, the material used to make the first chimineas, which originated in Mexico. Although far less sturdy than metal, clay—especially El Barro, terra cotta, or any other kiln-dried type—doesn’t show weathering as much as metal. However, metal versions have become much more popular, so folks may be hard-pressed to find a quality clay chiminea. (Our lineup of top models are all made of metal.)
Metal chimineas are very durable and come in a much greater variety of designs than their clay and tile counterparts. They are, however, prone to rust and weathering, especially in harsh outdoor conditions. Cast-iron models have a charming rustic look, but they’re among the heaviest options. If shoppers like the look of cast iron, they’ll want to be prepared to sacrifice portability because of the weight. Also, because metal conducts heat so well, most types of paint applied to the exterior are likely to bake and flake off.
Size and Shape
When choosing the size and shape of a chiminea, consider the decor and dimensions of the space where it will sit. The key is to get a model that will be in scale with the other furnishings and won’t overwhelm the square footage. A larger chiminea will generate more heat than a smaller model but is likely to be heavy and less portable. Plus, a larger unit will often have a taller chimney, so users must ensure that it won’t come into close contact with flammable materials such as an awning or pergola. Smaller chimineas have the benefit of portability and are easier to clean, as they can simply be dumped out.
Like their traditional predecessors, modern chimineas most commonly rely on wood as the fuel source. However, as chimineas become more popular, an increasing number of reputable companies, such as Cuisinart, are making gas-powered alternatives. Gas fireplaces in general are considered to be better for the environment than wood-burning models, regardless of whether propane or natural gas are used. In fact, some gas fireplaces burn up to 99 percent cleaner than traditional wooden ones. Gas fireplaces also have an instant start-up and don’t require any additional effort for materials, such as chopping and transporting wood.
On the downside, gas chimineas lack the ambience that classic wood-burning fires produce, not to mention the fact that they must be hooked up to a direct gas line or a bulky, unsightly tank. Either gas or wood may be used for cooking, but more even, predictable results will be achieved with a gas chiminea.
Keep an eye out for chimineas that include handy safety and convenience features, such as a wide stable base, a door, and fire pokers. Bases and doors protect property by preventing logs and embers from slipping out and falling directly onto something flammable or burning the floor of a deck. Those willing to spend a bit more money can find chimineas with built-in wood storage or 360-degree designs that radiate heat in all directions.
Our Top Picks
Our product recommendations reflect the in-depth research and careful consideration of the above factors. The picks below are durable, good-looking, and provide a solid value for the money.
The wood-burning Bali Outdoors chiminea strikes the perfect balance between a traditional fire pit and a chiminea by retaining the open nature of the former and the chimney design of the latter. The fully open mesh cage provides plenty of heat and has a neat geometric design for visual appeal, plus a sliding door that optimizes ease of use. The pit portion of the chiminea is wide and deep, which means no stress about splitting wood or purchasing unusually small logs.
The cast-iron construction of the Bali Outdoors chiminea is impressively durable—but that makes the unit fairly heavy at almost 53 pounds. This shouldn’t be much of a concern if the chiminea is meant to stay in place, but moving it around and taking it indoors for storage may be a hassle. Users may wish to purchase an additional cover for it to protect the metal from rust and weathering in cold, wet weather.
- Fuel type: Wood
- Material: Cast iron
- Weight: 52.9 pounds
- Fully open mesh cage is ideal for large gatherings
- Built-in ashtray for easy cleaning or small log storage
- Precise-fitting chimney lid
- Poker included
- Unique rustic yet modern look
- Cast iron requires protection from the elements to avoid rust
- Quite heavy for its size
Get the Bali Outdoors chiminea on Amazon.
The wood-burning Lokia chiminea from Hampton Bay offers excellent value for the money, especially considering its impressive durability. Indeed, it’s very much like our Best Overall pick, just a bit more diminutive. This robust cast-iron model is powder coated for increased weather resistance, which may allow it to stay on the patio longer. Its compact dimensions suit smaller patios, and although the width of the pit area is on the modest side, the mesh cage isn’t overly thick, so it doesn’t cut into the interior space. Between the efficient use of space, protective powder coating, and affordable price, the Lokia chiminea is a well-designed, high-quality option for those on a budget.
- Fuel type: Wood
- Material: Cast iron
- Weight: 43.4 pounds
- Not too heavy
- Totally open cage allows heat and light to spread as far as possible
- Powder-coated cast iron will age and patina well over time
- Thick legs interfere somewhat with effective use of built-in tray
- Open cage and rather stout chimney allow some smoke to escape
Get the Hampton Bay chiminea at The Home Depot.
Anyone hunting for a high-end, durable chiminea to elevate backyard aesthetics for many seasons to come will want to check out this unique model. The Blue Rooster Company’s Prairie Fire chiminea is made of cast aluminum as opposed to standard aluminum or cast iron. It’s made in a mold, which yields a much stronger final product than other manufacturing methods, such as die casting or sand casting.
For added convenience and versatility, the Prairie Fire’s chimney can be removed to reveal a grate on the top exit that can be used for cooking. The drafting is so efficient on this chiminea that it’s almost smokeless, which makes for a highly pleasant experience overall.
- Fuel type: Wood
- Material: Aluminum
- Weight: 48 pounds
- Large port-hole-style door looks great and directs heat well
- Large size but lightweight
- Cast aluminum is easy to maintain and will never rust
Get the Blue Rooster Company chiminea on Amazon or The Blue Rooster Company.
Those in the market for a chiminea that has plenty of stylish presence yet is portable as well will want to consider this Kelly Clarkson Home model. Don’t be fooled by this steel wood-burning model’s impressive 60-inch size: It’s one of the lightest in our lineup, despite being one of the tallest and widest as well. At just over 30 pounds, it won’t require a team of people to move around the patio.
The capsulelike design has a streamlined, modern look, and its large opening is easy to feed with wood and maintain the fire. It does a good job of capturing and directing the smoke, and the fire opening is wide. The only caveat is that the opening is rather close to the bottom of the pit, and there isn’t a door or log screen to keep the contents of the fire from falling out.
- Fuel type: Wood
- Material: Steel
- Weight: 30.6 pounds
- Built-in ash release for easy cleaning
- Included grate can be used for cooking
- Large fire opening
- Quite large at 5 feet tall
- No log screen included
Get the Kelly Clarkson Home chiminea on Wayfair.
The Sand & Stable Tide chiminea finds a balance between a traditional rustic look and a modern construction by combining a unique preaged finish with a circular and conicular structure made of cold-rolled steel. Although the Sand & Stable chiminea is tall, the fire pit area is short and wide, which is ideal for safety. Not only is the fire pit deep, the log screen is durable and boasts a sturdy latch, another safety measure. The downside of this design is that it keeps the fire fairly low to the ground where it’s less visible to those gathered around it; however, the fire can be purposefully built closer to where the chimney starts for visibility.
- Fuel type: Wood
- Material: Steel
- Weight: 38 pounds
- Weather-resistant, preaged appearance
- Striking design
- Extra-large fire pit zone
- Heavy-duty log screen door
- Comparatively expensive
- Fire placement low to the ground
Get the Sand & Stable chiminea on Wayfair.
Starting a fire isn’t always easy, especially if the wood is wet or unseasoned; this Cuisinart chiminea is gas-powered, effectively eliminating that isse. In fact, this model, which relies on propane and lava rocks, is entirely smokeless. The design hides an unsightly propane tank, and as a bonus, the versatile chiminea can also be used to burn wood.
One useful feature that makes the Cuisinart an even more attractive purchase is its unique flexible chimney lets the user choose where the heat goes. It also comes with a cover that protects it from the elements.
- Fuel type: Propane
- Material: Steel frame and stainless steel base
- Weight: 45 pounds
- Doesn’t require any wood
- Small footprint
- Generates over 40,000 BTUs of heat
- Propane tank is conveniently hidden from view
- Propane refills can be expensive
- Stainless steel looks great but requires ample upkeep
Get the Cuisinart chiminea at Amazon, Best Buy, or Bed Bath & Beyond.
If shoppers are looking for a reliable, good-looking chiminea that doesn’t skimp on helpful features, the Bali Outdoors chiminea is hard to beat. It exceeds expectations in terms of durability, functionality, and looks. Those in the market for a more budget-conscious model will want to check out the Hampton Bay chiminea. It offers many of the same features as the Bali, our Best Overall pick, but on a smaller scale.
How We Chose the Best Chimineas
With so many similar chimineas to research, finding the best ones to include on this list wasn’t easy. We cast a wide net to find models to evaluate, taking into account everything from each product’s specification sheet to verified customer reviews. We investigated chimineas with a variety of designs, fuels, materials, and price points to ensure that we found a top-quality chiminea for virtually every type of consumer.
The key to maximizing a chiminea’s functionality and design is understanding how to operate and maintain it safely. Those new to these portable outdoor heat vessels may still have a few questions, such as the common ones answered below.
Q. What type of outdoor flooring is needed for a chiminea?
Buyers don’t need special flooring to use a chiminea outside as long as they place it on flat ground. If they want to put their chiminea on a wooden deck, they’ll want to place a flat stone or a few bricks directly under it so it doesn’t leave burn marks on the wood.
Q. How far should a chiminea be placed from the house?
Similar to a standard fire pit, it’s recommended to keep a chiminea at least 30 feet from the house or other structure. If the owner lives in a somewhat arid location, we recommend placing the chiminea at least 50 feet away from your home.
Q. What is meant by a chiminea seasoning, and when should it be done?
Seasoning, also known as curing, is a process that prepares a clay chiminea to prevent it from cracking during use. Fortunately, most clay chimineas these days come preseasoned. If a clay chiminea is not preseasoned, follow these steps to prepare and protect it:
- Place sand or rocks on the bottom so the fire doesn’t come into direct contact with the clay.
- Start a very small fire in the center, let it go out, and let it cool completely.
- Start a second, slightly larger fire, let it go out, and then let it completely cool.
- Repeat a third time, and by then the clay chiminea should be seasoned and ready to enjoy.
Q. What is the best type of chiminea?
In terms of type, there isn’t a best chiminea. The look, material, and design of a chiminea should fit your particular style and needs. Each has unique pros and cons, and the best one is one that leaves the owner satisfied.
Q. Which chiminea gives off the most heat?
Chimineas that are open on all sides will give off the most heat. However, chimineas with a single opening tend to project more intense heat to a smaller space. Generally, chimineas don’t provide as much heat as open fire pits because the chimney material not only directs but also absorbs some of the heat.
Q. Is a chiminea better than a fire pit?
Choosing between a fire pit and a chiminea really comes down to personal preference. Fire pits tend to give off more light and radiate more heat, but they also don’t direct the smoke in any way, which can bring a burning sensation to the eyes during use and leave clothes smelling like smoke afterward. Those aren’t issues with a chiminea.