Updated April 2022
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Buying guide for best chimineas

For centuries, chimineas were the go-to method for cooking in Mexico. Today, these Southwestern-style freestanding fireplaces add a festive ambience to decks, patios, and gardens. Not only do they introduce a decorative accent to your outdoor living area, but they also provide warmth and grilling capabilities.

Chimineas all essentially share the same design: a burn basket that holds the fire and a chimney to funnel away the smoke from you and your guests. Beyond these shared basics, chiminea designs vary greatly, and you should search for one that not only works for you but also for your space. Are you searching for something classic, modern, or industrial, or are you envisioning a chiminea that is completely unique? Do you want a traditional chiminea crafted from clay or one that can stand up to any kind of weather?

This guide will examine construction methods and other features that go into a chiminea.

We will walk you through what you need to know before you set out to purchase one. When you’re ready to buy, take a look at our top picks.

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The word chiminea derives from the Spanish chimenea and French cheminee, both of which translate to chimney.

Key considerations

Construction and finish

A chiminea will be a central element on your deck, patio, or other outdoor living area, and as such, it should stand out. Traditionally crafted from clay, you can still find some chimineas made this way even today. However, you’re much more likely to find one constructed from a more rugged and long-lasting material, such as steel, cast iron, cast aluminum, or even copper. These materials are better able to handle a chiminea’s primary function — fire — while also allowing them to stand up to harsh weather. For maximum durability, look for chimineas with a powder-coated finish, which helps them better withstand the elements.

How does it draw?

Fire needs air, and the ability of a chiminea to draw air into and through it will affect its performance in a couple of different ways. A chiminea that draws air effectively will also burn effectively, offering long-burning fires that won’t sputter out with half-charred logs littering the fire basket. A chiminea that draws well will also be effective at moving smoke up its chimney and keeping it from pouring out into your living space.

Does it double as a grill?

In addition to providing a visually pleasing heat source for your next party, some chimineas pull double duty as a cooking source. In order to also be used as a grill, a chiminea should be fitted with a grate that can be used to suspend food over a wood or charcoal fire.

Some of these do have a grilling element, but they require you to provide the cooking grate as an added expense — so be sure you know whether that is the case before purchase. If you intend to cook with charcoal, also be sure that the chiminea is designed to be used this way.

Size and weight

The size and weight of your perfect chiminea will largely depend on your needs. The fire basket should be large enough to fit the wood you’re going to be using in it. The basket size will also affect the size of the fire you can have and the heat it will generate. Purchase one with too-compact of a fire basket, and you will be missing out on the ability to have a roaring, pleasing fire. On the other hand, one that is too large may be difficult to comfortably fit in your outside space.

Weight is similar to size. Some of these really bulk out, weighing in at 150 pounds or more. This is going to affect your ability to easily move a chiminea around your deck or garden. Others weigh in at 20 pounds, which may leave them more susceptible to tipping over; they will also likely feel cheaper overall.


Does it arrive largely assembled, or are you going to need to break out the tools and invite a couple of friends over for the afternoon? Know what level of assembly you are agreeing to before parting with your cash, as some of these are much easier to put together than others.

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For your safety
For safety, place your chiminea in a location where the fire is also visible from inside your house.


Chimineas don’t sport a ton of features, but some that you’ll want to consider include the following.

  • A log grate: These both hold the logs in place within the burn basket and raise them up so air can reach the fire more easily. Typically made from metal, log grates should be rugged and durable.

  • A cap: Also known as a rain cap, these go atop the chimney of the chiminea to keep water from easily entering and corroding the inside. Some caps are removable, while others are permanently in place (with a gap so the smoke can escape). Any chiminea you are considering should ship with some form of a cap.

  • Mesh screen: Mesh screens protect your guests from popping sparks while also providing a view of the fire. If your chiminea has a mesh screen, it should be hinged or slide so that you can easily tend to the fire and add wood.

  • Accessories: You won’t find a great number of accessories shipping with your chiminea, but some include a fire tool to reposition logs, a plastic or fabric cover to protect your chiminea, and a cooking grate.

Chiminea prices

Chimineas start out at around $100 and can easily cost several hundred dollars or even break $1,000 for top-of-the-line models. The majority can be found on the low-end of the scale, which ranges between $100 and $200. At higher price points, expect to find a heavier and more durable build, a more unique design, and just a better-quality chiminea.

Be sure to check what length and type of warranty, if any, a manufacturer includes with their chiminea before settling on a model.


  • If your chiminea does not include legs, you’re going to need to purchase a stand for it, as chiminea fire baskets can get quite hot.

  • In addition to assuring that all areas around a chiminea are safe when having a fire, don’t forget to look up. There should be no eaves, trees, or other objects directly above the chiminea.

  • Arrange sand, gravel, or lava rocks in the bottom of your chiminea to catch ashes. These can then easily be removed from the chiminea, rinsed off, and returned when dry to await the next fire.

  • To cook with a chiminea, start a fire about 20 minutes before you want to begin the food, and let the wood cook down to a nice layer of hot coals.

  • Cast iron is a durable and long-lasting chiminea construction material, but due to its weight, you should avoid it if you plan to move your chiminea around often.

  • If you wish to avoid the hassle and mess of burning wood, you may be better off opting for a gas-burning chiminea.

  • A stainless steel chiminea will run you less cost-wise than a cast-aluminum or cast-iron model, but you will also need to replace it more quickly, as it is less durable.

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If you experience harsh winters, protect your chiminea by bringing it in out of the elements in the off-season.


Q. Can I use my chiminea directly on a wooden deck?
Even with its legs, you should still have some form of hearth in place and not operate a chiminea directly on a wood surface. You can easily create your own hearth using bricks or flagstone. You should also take care that the surface your chiminea will sit on is level.

Q. What are some of the pluses and minuses of a chiminea with a 360-degree fire screen?
This type of chiminea provides a view of the fire from all angles, making it a great option for use in the middle of a deck or patio. It also provides heat on all sides, so it will be better for a larger crowd. On the downside, some may find it to be less intimate than other chimineas, and because of its open nature, smoke may not draw away from the fire so easily and can seep out the sides (and affect your guests).

Q. Do I need to prep my chiminea in any way before I can start using it?
Before having a robust fire in your chiminea, you should season it. You can do this by lighting a series of small fires over a week and letting them completely burn out. This will help to coat the inside of your chiminea and protect it from excessive heat.

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