Grilling on a Boat: 3 Quick Tips for Cookouts Onboard

boat grills

Grilling on a boat is one of the most satisfying experiences you can have on the water. With the right boat grill and some freshly caught fish (or fresh-from-the-fridge burgers, steaks, shrimp, chicken or plant-based patties), lunch and dinner can add sizzle and spice to any fun day on the water.

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Many new boaters often wonder, "is it legal to grill on a boat?" The answer? Absolutely! It is legal to grill on a boat, as long as you respect all local regulations, including those for catching fish, lobster or whatever else you’re planning to toss on the barbecue (that’s actually one of the beautiful things about grilling on a boat: You can do it three times a day for a week and never have the same meal twice).

Now, let's dive into some top tips for choosing the best boat grill, and advice on hosting a cookout onboard.

5 Tips for Cooking on a Boat


1. Choose the Right Boat Grill

The big trick to grilling on a boat is having the right kind of boat grill. Size of course matters, depending on the number of mouths you plan to feed, and durable construction is key for the marine environment. But equally important is style.

While you may be having a hot-and-charry love affair with your charcoal grill back at home, those briquets do not fare well in the worlds of fresh or saltwater. Charcoal grills thrive on the charcoal and ash being dry, which is a condition that simply does not exist on the sea or lake. The sheer nature of the marine environment is why the best boat grills are propane or electric.

Portable electric or propane grills can work great on a boat. Just a few of the many available options include:


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2. Consider Investing in a Boat Grill Mount

If you plan to do a lot of grilling on a boat, then the smarter option might be to mount the grill to the boat for stability. Why take the chance of a rogue boat wake or freak wind gust ruining the spread? Why lug the grill back and forth when you can have it ready and waiting on board?

Boat grill mounts are usually easy to install, and they will give you peace of mind as well as a more stable grilling platform for regular use. West Marine has a whole section of its online store that’s dedicated to different kinds of boat grill mounts.

There are mounts that attach to round rails as well as to flat rails—which means most kinds of boat designs—and some of the boat grill mounts rotate so you can move the grill out of everyone’s way when it’s not in use. The boat grills themselves can sometimes be purchased with mounts as part of a package deal, too, depending on the model.


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3. Stock Up on Grilling Tools for Onboard

You’ll also want to make sure to get grilling tools that can stand up to the marine environment. Everyone from Williams Sonoma to Home Depot offers grilling tool sets that come with protective cases, either for leaving your boat grill tools aboard the boat or for carrying them to and from the marina. Defender even offers a five-piece barbecue tool set that’s marketed as being made of marine-grade stainless steel to prevent corrosion in the marine environment.


Ready to Fire Up the Grill on Your Boat?

Overall, though, the key things to remember are that grilling on a boat is awesome, and that the right boat grill will augment just about any boating experience. Think about how—and how often—you plan to be grilling on the boat, and then set up your equipment accordingly for years’ worth of great onboard meals.

Read Next: Boat Cooking Tools & Galley Supplies

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