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Grilling On A Boat 101 – 3 Types Of Grills For Boating And Some Awesome Cooking Ideas For Out On The Water

Grilling On A Boat

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If you like grilling on a boat, then cooking right on the boat deck is a great way to enjoy your marine trip without pauses or breaks leaving the boat for fresh, hot food. That will further increase the joy and excitement of your marine trip. Grilling right on the deck is possible, but there is a catch.

Deck cooking or grilling on the boat requires grills specially designed for boats to serve the purpose. There are different types of boat grills available in the market to suit the users’ varying requirements, but the basics are charcoal, gas, and electric grill types.

Grilling On A Boat
A man grills using a charcoal grill, railing mounted, in the above photo.

This article talks about different boat grills, their types, and their usage. Additionally, it also covers deck cooking tips for a joyful marine trip. So if you’re looking forward to such things, keep reading this article until the end. Let’s grill aboard!

What Are The Different Types Of Boat Grills For Grilling On A Boat?

First of all, marine grills or boat grills are different from those ordinary ones, which we use on the land. Usually, a boat doesn’t come preinstalled with a marine grill. So it’s quite apparent that you have to choose a suitable boat grill to start cooking on the deck.

Different types of boat grills are:


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  1. Charcoal Boat Grill
  2. Gas Boat Grill
  3. Electric Boat Grill

Let’s learn about each of them.

Charcoal Boat Grills

Charcoal-based grills require a lot of patience because the cooking process is slow. Hence best suited only for patient people. It would help if you cooked fish or steak in such kinds of grills. A charcoal grill will give a classic smoky flavor and aroma to the food for sure. 

It’s essential to keep the grill off the boat, above the water, so that any hot ashes will fall directly in the water. Or else it can cause damage to the deck, and in the worst-case scenario, it may start a fire.

A standard charcoal-based boat grill usually consists of stainless steel, is small and round. Almost all the models come out of the box with the accessories to mount them on the rail. While on the other hand, some models ship with an adopter slot, so you can attach the grill on a rod holder.

Gas Boat Grill

Gas-based boat grills are quite popular nowadays because gas or propane is very cheap and readily available in the market. There’s no risk of falling ashes or hot coals, which can ruin your deck, like in the case of a charcoal-based boat grill.

However, forget the classic smoky flavor and aroma in the food when cooking on a gas grill. Luckily, a gas grill is available in the market in different sizes. You can opt for small, medium, or large ones (large enough to even cook food for up to 20 people at once).

Usually, gas grills should be firmly attached on a stand on the deck, provided that the deck is large enough as you’ll need some extra space movement. One significant thing to note here is that you must NEVER use a gas grill above an open locker or companionway. Either mount it on the rail or keep it on the deck.


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Electric Boat Grill

The first and foremost requirement of an electric grill is the constant AC power supply. A power cut for even 5 seconds can ruin your meal terribly. Many boats come preinstalled with an electric grill, generally on the flybridge or the roof. 

Electric grills CAN’T be detached, unlike charcoal and gas grills (if preinstalled). These kind of grills are still unpopular due to high price, and the fact that it requires a bulky power supply. A generator or shore power can safely power electric grills.

On the bright side, electric grills don’t have any flame, so you don’t have to worry about your deck getting wrecked. No flames, no fire accidents! It gets better as you can use this kind of grills where charcoal and gas grills are prohibited. 

Is A Boat Grill Any Different?

Yes, boat grills are different from the regular ones. You might be wondering how, so here’s the answer. A boat grill’s design makes it stand or rail mountable and aims at keeping the fuel inside the grill. As a result, such grills become safe for use in multiple conditions. 

Since the weather outside will vary, the wind might blow out the fire, or maybe the rain might ruin the party, you don’t have to worry about it, thanks to the specially designed grills for boats. They are mountable on the rail. So even in case of an accident, you can always throw things directly in the water to avoid any mishap. 

The best part of a boat grill is that it doesn’t require much space, so it’s mountable even on small boats. 

Precautions And Important Points To Ponder For Boat Grilling

  • Never hit in the dark! If you have no idea how to get started with the grill, NEVER hesitate or feel shame in reading the manual. Shooting in the dark is the worst thing you can do if you’re clueless. Since grills can lead to massive accidents, it’ll be troublesome if it causes a mishap just because you were too lazy to read the manual.
  • Make sure to cook food on the deck in an open space and a well-ventilated area. Cooking in closed rooms can cause fire accidents. If not, then at least it’ll fill the rooms with the smoke, which no one is going to like.
  • Even if the boat isn’t sailing, water waves can always cause an imbalance. Improper installation and or mounting of the grill can cause accidents. In the worst-case scenario, it might fall off the rails/stand and start a fire. 
  • Always be present. If you have to go away from the grill for some time, make sure someone else is attending it. In short, you must NEVER leave your grill unattended even for a second.
  • You must make use of long tongs, forks, and other utensils best for grills. It is essential to avoid burns and other self-injury.
  • Use safety clothes and gloves. Avoid wearing synthetic clothes, which catch fire quickly. Baggy clothes are again a big NO! Keep your sleeves folded.

Common Issues With The Boat Grills

While deck cooking can be fun, romantic, and memorable, there are a few issues that almost everyone faces with the boat grills.


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  • Ignition may or may not work on the first click.
  • The lid is prone to become hot, and many newcomers are highly vulnerable to self-injury.
  • Cooking can be easy, but mounting won’t
  • It’s crucial to keep an eye on the flame.

Cleaning issues. After a delicious meal, it’s troublesome to clean the grill since you can’t leave it dirty.

Deck Cooking Tips – Quick & Easy Grill Ideas For Boating

A man cooks a feast aboard his watercraft.

Now that you’ve got an idea of different boat grills and safety points, it’s high time that we learn some deck cooking tips. This section will talk about some delicious and filling food items, which you can cook on your deck without much hassle.

  1. Hot Dogs & Sausages

When it comes to grilling, never leave out the hot dogs. You can enjoy the American classic on board if you’re all set up with a grill. Let’s see some mouthwatering hot dog variations, which we’re sure you can’t wait to cook on deck.

  • Chicago-style Hot Dogs are quite popular. The classic Chicago dog consists of a grilled jumbo Chicago hot dog, fill in a poppy seed bun and some pickle, cucumber, tomato, diced onions, and finally, yellow mustard. 
  • Chili Cheese Hot Dogs are grilled and stuffed in a soft bun. The toppings include shredded cheddar cheese. Best to pre-make the chili at home, then bring some piping hot chili in a thermos if you don’t have a microwave on board in your galley. Here’s an excellent thermos for bringing your chili out. I use it for my canoe adventures because my galley is a little lacking in my canoe.
  • Corn Dogs are another one of the tasty food items you can grill on the deck. Hot dogs and cornbread make a perfect combination, and they are super easy for the kids. Not the healthiest meal, but a decent enough snack once in a while.
  • Oktoberfest Sausage and Sauerkraut. Taking it just outside of the hot dog realm, you can always swap out the Weiner for an Oktoberfest sausage and bring some sauerkraut with you for a German grilled treat.
  1. Mediterranean Chicken Skewers

Feel like a Greek Mediterranean experience? Try bringing some cooked rice from home. I make mine in a rice cooker like this one from Amazon the day before heading out for my adventure. I bring a container of Tzatziki and some salad with fresh greens, olives, and cucumber. A touch of dressing on the side is essential.

I like to prep my chicken skewers the day before and marinate them, but as long as they are fresh and thawed, you’re good to get grilling!

  1. Grilled Fish with Pineapple

The last time I was in Central America, my wife and I went on a beautiful boat excursion for the day to explore nature. Our lunch stop consisted of firing up the grill. We had some freshly caught fish and fresh pineapple. We threw both onto the grill on the deck and seared them up nice. It was one of the most delicious meals I can remember, and it was just plain snapper and pineapple, both grilled to perfection. Oh, and a cerveza to wash it down, of course.

  1. Burgers And Grilled Potato Halves

If we’re heading back to the American kitchen, a comfortable and popular meal to grill out on the water is the classic burgers and fries. In this case, we aren’t likely going to bring a deep fryer out on the boat. But I have a healthier alternative that is equally or more delicious to go with your burger. 


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Take some freshly washed potatoes. It would be best if you scrubbed the potatoes well due to leaving the skin intact. Now, merely cut them in half. Sprinkle with salt, a touch of olive oil, parsley, and a small sprinkle of garlic. Wrap in two to three layers of aluminum foil and toss on the grill for 3o minutes or so. Don’t forget to turn them. Test with a fork – if it sticks in easy and then quickly slides out of the potato, it’s done.

  1. Grilled Tofu And Veggie Skewers

Going for more of a vegan alternative, some firm tofu steaks and veggie skewers grilled on deck are light and healthy alternatives to the burger or hot dog concept. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but for those of us looking to have a vegetarian or vegan option, grilled tofu is easy and fast to prepare. Oh, and it’s delicious, too (I can’t forget to mention that).

The Last Word On Boat Grills And Grilling

By the end of this article, you must have learned about different boat grills, safety measures, cooking ideas, and some common issues that most people face with boat grills. By now, we can say that you’ve successfully learned enough to start cooking right on the deck while on a marine trip. So from now on, no need to get off the boat, pay huge restaurant bills just to beat the hunger.

Also, it’s safe to conclude that boat grills differ from inland grills and require extra caution, as accidents on board can be hazardous. It’s always wise to onboard a fire extinguisher like this one found at Amazon. Boat grills can last for decades, while the fuel’s life depends totally upon the usage. Many people still doubt if it’s safe to grill on the deck. Cooking on the deck isn’t much risky until you’re cautious and following all the safety guidelines, but it does hold enough risk rough.


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