If you want to have a real fire going while entertaining alfresco on a late summer’s evening (and you don’t want to scorch your lawn) then you have a decision to make: fire pit or chiminea?

There are plenty of advantages to a fire pit, but if it’s pure convenience you’re after then a chiminea will require minimum attention in terms of feeding the fire, so you can just concentrate on having a good time.

A Mexican invention for baking bread, chimineas are designed to burn slowly and keep the temperature constant, so we tested to see how easy the fire was to start in the bowl and how good the draft through the opening and up into the flue was, as this will always make for the most efficient blaze.

Then, it was all about the hoodie and hat test to see how toasty the chiminea kept the gathered throng without them having to layer up.

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Jotul terrazza: £299, Stove Supermarket

Is this a chiminea? Well it’s self-standing, has got a large fire opening and a flue so it definitely qualifies. But it’s certainly removed from the classic examples – Norwegian design and practicality have combined to offer a large fire opening and because it’s on a right angle there’s plenty of room to get in larger logs. This means that you can keep the fire going without you constantly having to feed it. It arrives as a flat pack but there are only nine steps to the self-assembly. The Corten steel plates that it’s made from corrode to form a protective effect on the metal which only adds to the look. It produced a hot, clean flame and threw out light and heat in equal measure, which outlasted even the dirty stop outs in the group.

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La Hacienda linea chiminea: £88.99, Amazon

This distinctive clay model has a sizeable firebox and is perfect for whiling away the evening watching the flames flicker with your friends. A sturdy steel stand means that there’s never any danger of toppling even if it takes a knock. This chiminea adds some extra versatility to your evening with the fact that you can remove the flue to reveal a grill that’s big enough to have an outdoor cookout if your guests get hungry.

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La Hacienda mesh Colorado chiminea: £167.25, Amazon

There are plenty of modern burners on the market that have updated the chiminea concept by swapping the rustic look for sleek, sharp, steel lines that will lend any back garden a modernist touch. We thought this was one of the best looking out there and the 360-degree mesh firebox means that everyone can enjoy the flames no matter where they’re sitting. It gave off lots of heat, but the mesh means that if you have kids you won’t have to worry about little fingers getting too close to the flames.

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Garden Trading Sarsden chiminea: £230, Garden Trading

This black metal model is very straightforward to assemble and its spacious design makes it easy to load with wood and kindling to get the burn going. The design also allows good air circulation to feed the flames, while a galvanised grill allows ash to drop away and not clog the fire bed.

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Morso kamino chiminea fireplace: £999, John Lewis & Partners

Made from cast iron, this is another talking point chiminea that will stand out no matter where you place it. However, it’s not all style over substance as the tall, elongated flue and roomy firebox combine to make starting and prolonging the fire very simple. It was easy to assemble too. As a result, the heat we got from the chiminea was very impressive and made sitting outside long after sunset very comfortable.

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Gardeco clay wood burning chiminea: £115.99, Wayfair

We liked the unusual teardrop design of this clay chiminea that comes in four different finishes: green, red, brown and yellow. A very effective heat source when lit, but the manufacturer advises layering the firebed with lava stones to avoid cracking over time.

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Sol 72 Outdoor ingersoll wood chiminea: £159.99, Wayfair

The nicely sized base on this chiminea means that it’s easy to build your fire initially. The tunnel design grate and efficient chimney allows more air to get to the fire so you won’t have any problems keeping the heat source stoked as the evening progresses. It didn’t feel like you were losing heat up the chimney either, which meant plenty of warmth where it was needed.

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Gardeco toledo cast iron chiminea: £129.99, Amazon

This ornate cast iron burner is really well thought out to make entertaining easy. Firstly, there is the large opening that takes the hassle out of making and maintaining your fire, then there’s the innovative cast iron barbecue grill that swivels in and out of the flames, so you can cook with ease. This combined with a hinged mesh door that allows you to close off the fire for safety and a generous amount of heat generation makes this a real all rounder.

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La Hacienda malmo chiminea: £110.27, Amazon

The small footprint of this very efficient and modern chiminea makes it a good option for smaller urban patios or balconies. The malmo has a rectangular opening that is perfectly suited for a few small logs to burn steadily and return the warmth to the outside. Another cut out underneath is the perfect log store so you’re never far from your next log.

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The verdict: Chimineas

Chimineas are all about prolonging the use of your exterior areas as we head into late summer and early autumn and the Jotul terrazza is the perfect patio companion, offering the best combination of practicality and price that will look great in any outdoor space.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.