Chiminea Cooking – An Introduction

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Wondering if you can use a chiminea as a BBQ? The good news is you can!


There are a few different ways to BBQ and cook with your chiminea and this will depend on the type of chiminea you’re working with and what equipment you have available.

The origins of the chiminea were as a traditional clay oven that also warmed the home in 16th Century Mexico. So, it’s been used as a way of cooking for centuries.

Today the chiminea has come a long way and there are many different designs and materials, not to mention the accessories, available if you’d like to use your chiminea for cooking as well as a stunning patio heater.

You Can Cook with any Type of Chiminea

The good news is you can cook and BBQ food with any type of chiminea

Yes, clay chimineas are more limited as your only fuel source is wood and this can present challenges for cooking. From a wood fire, there are always flames and this can be problematic when trying to cook. Food cooked only in flames burns quickly and doesn’t cook in the middle.

However, there are still lots of cool cooking options available if you opt for a clay chim, and in fact, there are even clay chims that are designed specifically to split into a BBQ – see pic below:

There are also metal chimineas that are specifically designed to make BBQ chiminea cooking an easy option.

There are cast iron chimineas with swiveling BBQ grill attachments included:

toledo bbq chiminea

And even chimineas offering built-in grill and chimney to the side like this one:

Method 1 – In the Fire

Whether you’re using a clay or metal chiminea, wood or charcoal fire, you can cook within the fire. Wrap sweet potatoes in foil and cook them directly in the fire. Just don’t forget those long tongs to fish them out after an hour or so to check on them.

TIP – When cooking in a chiminea and using wood as your fuel be extra careful to check that the wood you are using has not been chemically treated.

For this type of cooking the food should be completely enclosed. The obvious reason for this is your food will be surrounded by the fire, ash and all. Wrapping food in tin foil and chucking it in the fire is a great way to cook food. 

Think of anything you can cook in the oven or barbeque and you can do it in a chiminea. All you need is:

  • The food you are cooking (potatoes, fish etc)
  • Strong tin foil
  • Some fire tools to get it in and out of the fire

Instructions – wrap food in tin foil, and chuck it into the depths of your lovely chiminea fire. The only tricky part of this way of cooking is telling when it’s ready. You can’t see the food as it’s wrapped up and buried in fire. 

However, there are some accessories we can get that allow us to cook IN the fire and check if it’s ready as we go.

long handle frying pan for chiminea
frying pan from GARDENSTREET
Cast Iron Waffle Pan Wayfair
waffle iron CHIMINEASHOP
Cast-Iron-Cooking-Iron outdoor heat
cast iron cooking iron on OUTDOORHEAT

You might also like my article on chimineas with a BBQ grill for cooking.

Method 2 – Cooking ON the Fire

The easiest and quickest thing to cook on the fire is marshmallows. Get hold of some long skewers, stick a marshmallow on the end, and away you go! It takes just a few minutes of holding the marshmallow over the flame and you have a delicious sugar bomb incoming!

TIP – When cooking meat or fish make sure the pieces are of similar size to result in them being ready together.

If you don’t have a chiminea that has a built-in grill,  you can purchase one the right size and use some bricks inside your chim to prop it up over your flames. Here’s one available on Amazon:

TIP – You can use fuel like hickory chips to enhance the flavour of your chiminea cooked food.

Another hugely popular way of cooking on a chiminea is to bake pizza. For this, you need a pizza stone that’s the right size for your chim. Here’s an example:

This can be so much fun for the family to do together with super tasty results. Here are some pics to give you an idea of how to use the pizza stone.

chiminea before grill
chiminea with grill
chiminea with grill and pizza stone

Method 3 – Cooking on the Chimney

Last but certainly not least you can cook on the top of your chiminea utilising the heat directed upwards through the chimney.

There are a few different options for this but you’ll need something that lets you cook without stopping the smoke from flowing through the chimney.

By placing a grill on top of your chiminea you can place pots or pans on top – there’s even a guy on youtube who makes a pot of coffee on top of his chim – we’ll have to try that one! ☕

TIP – Never make your chiminea fire too large when cooking. You’ll likely burn the food and maybe even damage your chiminea.

Chiminea Cooking Accessories and Tools

Here’s a list of a few things to consider when you’re going to cook with your chiminea. Please note, we have no affiliation with these companies and simply did some research that might be useful.

TIP – Don’t forget basic tools like tongs and heat-proof gloves become essential when cooking with your chiminea

Clean your Chiminea Often

Perhaps the only downside to cooking on your chiminea- you will have to clean it once you’re done. Removable grills are easy enough to clean. For any fixed grills within the chiminea, you can clean them as you would clean a BBQ.

Best done immediately after cooking when still warm – half a lemon is excellent at quickly cleaning BBQ grills. Using your heatproof gloves, holding lemon flesh side down on the grill, give a good going over. This should easily get rid of a LOT of your cooking mess and leave the grill lemony fresh.

TIP – remember animal fats are extremely flammable so be aware of any run-off into your chiminea.

In Summary

Chiminea cooking is easy and after taking basic safety precautions, can be a lot of fun for all the family.  It also makes for a lovely outdoor experience that we are all sadly lacking these days.

What have you cooked on your chiminea this season?

You might also like this article on chimineas with a grill.

Check out how to make chiminea smores next.

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