The mere mention of the phrase “boat grilling” gets our blood pumping. It contains 2 of our favorite things — being on the water, and cooking stuff over fire — and mashes them together in ways so awesome they defy the very laws of nature. But by that same token, you shouldn’t dive into boat grilling without an understanding of and respect for the forces at play. You’re taking a live fire, putting it on a vessel, then putting that vessel over open water. That’s not the most common cooking setup, so finding your sea legs may not be as easy as climbing aboard and firing up the grill.
Fortunately, you can count our grilling experts among your crew! Their boat BBQs are the stuff of legend, and now you too can go anchors aweigh with the help of their boat grilling tips. From the importance of prep work and organization to the best marine cookware and storage options, we’ll walk you through the most important parts of grilling up galley grub. Are you ready to navigate great eats on the high seas?
Plan Your Boating Meals
Like a captain charting their course, a good boat griller doesn’t set foot on deck without scouting the best route. Map out your meals down to each ingredient, creating a comprehensive prepping plan (more on that in a minute) and an easy-to-follow schedule for when you’ve left port. Now’s also the time to get everyone’s input on the menu and make sure your vessel has enough food storage for the provisions. This work is far from glorious, but it’s necessary to ensure everything stays organized and runs smoothly for the duration of your voyage.
Prep Your Food Ahead of Time
We all hold a mental image of sailors hunched over a bucket, peeling spuds and definitely not cursing as their title implies. (We’re a PG website, folks.) Your boat meal prep doesn’t have to be that big of a bummer, but it’s still essential for saving time and storage space once you’re underway. Go meal by meal and prep any ingredients you can, whether that’s mincing veggies or trimming fat, and freeze or refrigerate them in flat bags so they store more easily. If anything, you’ll avoid already-hazardous knife work on potentially choppy waters.
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Inspect Your Grill & Mount Before You Leave
We’ve covered what makes boat grilling such an unusual (yet life-affirming) proposition, so it only makes sense to ensure everything is shipshape before you start grilling in the galley. Perform a routine check of your grill, propane tank, and all connections, testing for gas leaks by applying soapy water and watching for bubbles. Give your boat grill mount a careful once-over as well — securing the grill to your vessel is the difference between successful seafaring sizzle and a literal sunk cost. (No, we still haven’t hit our boat pun quota.)
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Check Your Cooking Fuel Supply
You’d never set sail without making sure your motor has enough fuel, so why wouldn’t you do the same with your boat grill? Load up on enough propane — or charcoal or electricity, though we advise staying away from those fuels while boating for safety reasons — to see you through the duration of your trip, otherwise you’ll run the risk of having half-cooked food or none at all. No one wants to rack their brains making plans, put in the hard prep work, and get out on the water only to discover they’re short on fuel with no refill station in sight.
Pack Boat Grilling Tools & Cookware
Grilling on the water is a thrilling experience, but you know from your backyard cooking exploits that having a fully stocked toolkit is key for getting the most out of your BBQs. But not just any old set of grilling tools and cookware will do in this case; marine conditions are unforgiving on steel, so you need a reliable set of accessories built to withstand the harsh elements. Magma grill accessories and Magma marine cookware boast 304, 18-8 stainless steel construction that provides extreme corrosion resistance even in saltwater environments.
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Store Everything in Sealed Containers
Last we checked, being on a boat means being surrounded by water, and water usually doesn’t play nice with food items and cooking accessories. It’s crucial to store everything you’ll use for boat grilling in a dry place, whether it’s a plastic container or built-in storage units aboard your vessel. Yes, even airtight cans should be kept securely stored away from the water. Here’s another tip, on the (boat)house: when you pack food for the voyage, arrange it so the items you’ll need first are at the top of the storage container for easy access.
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Consult Your Manual & Local Rules
At the risk of repeating ourselves yet again, cooking with fire on a boat is a little out of the ordinary. We always recommend thoroughly checking the manual before using any grill, but boat grills may come with certain stipulations to account for their unconventional nature. Once you’ve gotten a feel for proper use, look up local codes governing grilling in places your boat will be. Many marinas prohibit grilling on their property or while docked for safety reasons, so check with them before trying to get a jump on your maritime meat-searing.
Don’t Leave a Lit Grill Unattended
Here’s another tip that applies to grills in all settings yet is amplified when you’re on the water. An unchecked fire can run wild, seriously damaging your boat and causing harm to those aboard. To make matters worse, you can’t exactly flee from a burning boat or receive emergency fire or medical care in a matter of minutes when you’re far from shore. You should always keep a fire extinguisher close while grilling, along with a first-aid kit just in case. Read our boat grilling safety tips for more guidance on properly cooking nautical nosh.