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Best fire pits 2021: Stylish propane and wood-burning fire pits for backyards

Included in this guide:

Best fire pits: Three adults sit around a large, stylish fire pit in the garden at night
(Image credit: Getty)

The best fire pits will help you transform your outdoor space into a warm and inviting haven. Whether you want a food-friendly fire pit that you can roast marshmallows on, or you are looking for a stylish fire pit that will not only look good, but keep you and your guests warm, then we’ve got something for you. 

In our handy guide, we’ve rounded up the best fire pits for every outdoor space just in time for autumn. It’s important to note that not every fire pit is powered in the same way. Some work by burning charcoal, others use propane and a handful of classic models work by burning wood. The latter types require a little more maintenance, than your more modern and low-maintenance gas-fuelled models. But either way, outdoor living brands such as BioLite, Tiki Brand and Solo Stoves offer brilliant and affordable fire pit options to choose from. Plus, these brands create fire pits that use airflow management designs to achieve a hotter glow, minus the smoke. 

In some cases, the best fire pits can rival the best patio heaters in terms of price and warmth. That’s because these handy outdoor pits can cost anywhere between $100 to $1000 and double up as entertainment (is there anything better than firegazing?) and a heat source. Just remember, you’ll probably need to invest in a heat protection mat, to make sure you protect the surface your fire pit is perched on. For other outdoor entertainment buys, check out our guide to the best outdoor solar lights and the best gas grills.

1. Tiki Brand Fire Pit: Best fire pits for parties

Best fire pits: Tiki Brand Fire Pit with flames

(Image credit: Tiki Brand)

Tiki Brand Fire Pit

The best fire pit - and it's basically smoke free

Type: Wood burning | Dimensions: 24.75" x 18.75" | Weight: 45lbs | Material: Stainless steel | What’s included: Fire Pit, Wood Pack, Cloth Cover, Stand

Great, convenient design
Perfect to gather around
Quite heavy
No spark shield

Balance is the order of the day here and Tiki Brand has perfectly combined the attractiveness and practicality of the Fire Pit's design and the convenience of its pellet-burning capabilities with the freedom to fire up logs if you prefer the ability to build a roaring fire with airflow which effectively cuts smoke down to the bare minimum. 

It has a slide-out ash tray for easy cleaning, an assembly process that involves attaching just three screws, and a cover included. The only thing it lacks, at least as we write, is a spark shield - but only because Tiki Brand has gone back to the drawing board to create a better one, due in summer 2021. 

This is pricier than some, but if you're planning an evening get-together it's the perfect centerpiece. If you want style and ultimate relaxation, we'd also suggest throwing in a hot tub to complete your garden oasis. 

2. BioLite FirePit+: Best fire pit for control

Best fire pits: BioLite FirePit+ in black and orange, with the grilling plate placed on the top

(Image credit: Biolite)

BioLite FirePit+

Burn wood or charcoal, and control the flames from your phone

Type: Wood/charcoal burner | Dimensions: 27" x 13" x 15.8" | Weight: 19.8lbs | Material: Steel | What’s included: Grill grate, fuel rack, USB cable

Very versatile
Adjustable flame with low smoke
Reasonably small
Needs looking after

Biolite's innovative fire pit enables you to do more than you can with many, using a battery-powered Bluetooth system to control airflow, allowing you to tweak the size of its flames using your phone, and keeping smoke to a bare minimum. 

Throw in some charcoal and you've got a portable hibachi grill, with a grill grate included; burn wood instead and you can make the most of its 'X-Ray Mesh' body, which offers a good view of the fire from three sides and radiates heat outwards for maximum warmth. 

It isn't huge, and you'll definitely want to maintain it a little more often than some of the rough-and-ready fire pits on offer here, but there's nothing quite like it, particularly if you're planning a camping trip and need something to pull double duty.

3. Outland Living Mega Fire Pit: Best propane fire pit 

Best Fire Pits: Outland Living Mega Fire Pit

(Image credit: Outland Living)

Outland Living Mega Fire Pit

This is the best fire pit if you don't want to burn wood

Type: Propane | Dimensions: 24" x 13" | Weight: 34lbs | Material: Steel | What’s included: Lava rocks, propane tank stabilizer ring, cover, hose & regulator

Sidesteps fire bans
Clean and portable
Not as exciting as wood
Uses a lot of propane

The CSA approval of the Outland Living Mega Fire Pit means you can use it in places where burning wood fires are banned (see below for more on that) which is certainly one reason to pick it over the other fire pits in this guide - but it's also very convenient. 

You can start it in seconds, switch it off rather than having to wait for a fire to burn out, convert it to natural gas if it's staying home, or carry it around without any of the mess of wood pits if you're on the move. It's very handsome, too, and includes everything you'll need bar a propane bottle. 

And you may need more than one of those, depending on how much you burn it, since it has a maximum 58,000 BTU output, though this can be easily adjusted if you're happy with slightly smaller flames.

4. Amazon Basics 26" Geometric Square Fire Pit: Best cheap fire pit

Best fire pits: Amazon Basics 26" Geometric Square Fire Pit

(Image credit: Amazon)

Amazon Basics 26" Geometric Square Fire Pit

The best cheap fire pit that comes with everything you need

Type: Wood burning | Dimensions: 26" x 26" x 24" | Weight: 29.3lbs | Material: Alloy Steel | What’s included: Spark screen, screen-lift tool, cover

Everything included
Plenty of room for fire
So-so looks
Can get smoky

Proof that you don't need to spend through the nose if all you need is a convenient place to build a fire, Amazon's bargain fire pit comes with everything you'll need, from a spark screen to a poker, and seems very sturdy with it. 

Perhaps its pre-distressed looks won't be for everyone, but wood burners all tend to get a little charred after a few fires anyway - this has plenty of ventilation to allow good airflow, and radiates a heck of a lot of side-to-side heat. 

It's square, too: that means you get far more room to build a fire than those pits with a 26-inch circular diameter. The Amazon Basics 26" Geometric Square Fire Pit is also on the lighter side, meaning you can move it where it needs to be with ease.

5. Bali Outdoors Wood Burner: Best fire pit for cooking food too

Best fire pits: Bali Outdoors Wood Burning Fire Pit

(Image credit: Bali Outdoors)

Bali Outdoors Wood Burning Fire Pit

The best fire pit for cooking on

Type: Wood burning | Dimensions: 32"x25" | Weight: 27lbs | Material: Steel | What’s included: Log rack, poker

Very useful grilling rack
Rock-solid construction
No spark screen
Smaller burning area

There's nothing to stop you roasting the odd marshmallow over one of our other top fire pits - or, indeed, adding your own grill grate over the top of them - but nothing else here can match the Bali Outdoors Wood Burning Fire Pit when it's time to use that heat for a little cooking. 

It has an integrated grill top with a high capacity, as well as a generous shelf running around the top of the pit that's perfect for keeping things warm. And you won't be short of warmth, because this offers great outward radiation, and even has a ring around its legs which you can (carefully) use as a footrest. 

The price isn't bad, either, although there's no spark shield and that grill may make it quite difficult to introduce your own.

6. Solo Stove Yukon: Best fire pit for big flames

Best fire pits: Solo Stove Yukon

(Image credit: Solo Stove)

Solo Stove Yukon

The best stylish fire pit with a huge capacity

Type: Wood burning | Dimensions: 27" x 17" | Weight: 38lbs | Material: Stainless Steel | What’s included: Fire pit only

Advanced airflow design with low smoke
Large capacity
Very expensive...
...particularly once you've picked up the required extras

While its stainless steel look is either likely to suit your patio or stand out like a sore thumb, Solo Stove's largest fire pit is capable of creating some truly huge flames, employing a furnace-like airflow system that drags air in under the fire as well as pulling it in around the top ring, reigniting smoke for a double burn. 

It's really very clever - although its design does mean that cleaning out ash means inverting the whole thing. This is a luxury option, the most expensive fire pit on our list, and also the most basic by default; things get even more expensive once you've picked up a spark shield, a cover, and a host of other accessories. But if you're looking for a fire pit that'll impress, and one which will stand the test of time, this is it.

Today’s best fire pit prices

How to choose the best fire pit

A black Bali Outdoors Wood Burning Fire Pit burning in a garden, surrounded by opulent patio chairs

(Image credit: Bali Outdoors)

Everyone's situation and reasons for wanting a fire pit are going to be different, so it's important to consider exactly how you might use it before biting the bullet. If it's likely to be left out in the open, make sure you pick a fire pit that's rust-resistant, and preferably one with a cover included. 

If it's going to be used on a deck or grass, look for something which doesn't radiate its heat downwards, or pick up a heat-resistant barrier to stop things from getting scorched. And if you're not entirely sure where you'll use it, something portable is a real plus, to save you dragging 50lbs of dirty metal across your yard.

Keep an eye out for spark shields, which can stop errant embers flying out without cutting down on the heat, perfect if you're gathering around the fire pit to keep warm or using it near anything flammable - and look for fire pits that produce less smoke if you're going to get really close, because nobody likes a face full of fumes, and your neighbors will thank you. 

Finally, bear in mind that fire pits need certain tools to make the most of them: check what's included when you buy, so you don't get stung by any hidden extra requirements.

Wood-burning laws when using fire pits in America

Wood burning fire pits can produce a large amount of smoke - or, to put it another way, a large amount of particle pollution. The EPA highly recommends burning only seasoned and dry firewood, with a moisture content around 20%.

It also recommends not burning it at all on days where there is an air quality alert. Burning green wood (or, indeed, anything other than wood) is a big no-no. 

While there is no official legal restriction on wood-burning fires on a federal level, local governments often apply restrictions on recreational fires, and many campgrounds do not allow them, so check your state or city ordinance before buying. 

It may be that you can only burn on certain days - the City of Albuquerque, for instance, has regular no-burn days designed to keep air quality high - and in times of drought you will likely find state-wide bans in place to prevent brush fires.

Alex Cox

Alex is an experienced copywriter, reviewer, and sub-editor with almost 25 years' experience in the consumer publishing industry. Creating reviews for Top Ten Reviews covering gas grills to fire pits, Alex also writes for sister sites including TechRadar and T3.