While you wait for your favorite fast-food restaurants to find a way to put up a drive-through booth in the middle of your favorite lake, it’s probably only practical that you pack your own food. But because the waves and the wind might make it tough to enjoy a four-course meal on-board a boat, finger food should be your best friend. If you’re looking at hosting a party on the lake, it’s a great idea to consider the below finger food ideas for boat parties.
Not quite sure what savory snacks and sweet treats would be best for a boat ride? Here are some creative finger food ideas for boating to make your next midlake picnic even more memorable.
Top 20 Finger Food Ideas
1. Veggies and Dip
Perhaps one of the easiest snacks to prepare, the opportunities are endless with veggies and dip. Slice up a bunch of crunchy vegetables that don’t easily spoil (like carrots, celery, and cucumber) and store in a container. It’s even easier to enjoy them in your favorite dip if you make long strips that you can easily hold and munch on even when the waves get a little choppy.
2. Sweet or Savory Wraps
Wraps just feel like they were designed for boating. With all of that delicious goodness enveloped snugly in a tortilla, wraps are an ideal choice for those who want a hearty lunch but not the mess that usually comes with it. Plus, wraps can be incredibly versatile. Grill up some chicken and toss in some tomatoes, lettuce, and ranch. Or make a dessert wrap with peanut butter, banana slices, and chocolate chips. The sky’s the limit!
3. Frozen Fruit and Berries
It can get pretty hot on a boat, so it doesn’t hurt to bring along something that might help you cool down. While a can of soda might be an easy hack, why not mix things up with frozen fruit and berries for the perfect summer boat food? Toss some grapes, raspberries, and blueberries into a Ziploc bag and toss into the freezer. Before you go out to your boat, pack them into an ice box to keep them nice and frozen when you get to your favorite midlake picnic spot. Some people like to take it the extra mile by dusting the grapes and berries in white sugar before tossing them into the freezer.
4. Egg Breakfast Cups
Egg breakfast cups pack all of the essentials of a healthy, balanced breakfast without actually being too tedious to eat. The night before your trip, take a muffin tin and fill each pocket halfway with beaten egg. Add in some ham, mushrooms, bell pepper, garlic, onions, sausage -- what have you! Throw them in the oven to bake for 10 to 15 minutes and you should have the perfect easy breakfast for those early mornings fishing.
5. Chocolate Pockets
If your sweet tooth just doesn’t take breaks, then a chocolate pocket should be a great way to keep those cravings at bay during your boat ride. Take some puff pastry and cut them into rectangles. Cut up a Snickers bar and place one chunk in the middle of each puff pastry slice. Fold it up so the chocolate’s completely covered and seal the edges. Then throw them into your airfryer, and you’ve got the perfect sweet snack to much on while you’re out.
6. Mini Pizzas
The pizza is the ultimate easy snack food, packing all of the best ingredients in a simple yet delicious package. To make your own mini pizzas, you can use store bought dough or create your own dough at home. Add some sauce, cheese, and all your favorite toppings. Bake in the oven, and pack in containers to take with you on your trip. Mini pizzas can last pretty long and taste good even after they’ve cooled down, so there’s no need to worry about keeping them hot.
7. Easy Caramel Corn
Caramel corn is a family favorite, but because some recipes call for so much prep and effort, people often write it off as not the kind of food to take on a pontoon boat. But this easy recipe should change that. Melt some butter over a low flame and add in some brown sugar. Mix them all together until they’re nice and melted. Turn off the heat, add in some vanilla extract and baking soda, and stir. Throw in your popped popcorn (make sure to leave out the unpopped kernels) and mix them all together until evenly coated. And there you have it!
8. Trail Mix
Since we’re in the territory of easy snacking, trail mix becomes an obvious inclusion. Sure, you could always just buy a pack of trail mix from your local store. But where’s the fun in that? Making your own trail mix means you get to save a few bucks, tweak the ratio, and leave out the bits you don’t like (we’re looking at you, raisins.) Throw in some of your favorite nuts, candy coated chocolate, and maybe even mini marshmallows. Really, there are no rules when it comes to creating your perfect trail mix.
9. Granola Bars
Is trail mix a little too ‘bits and pieces’ for your liking? Maybe granola bars might be a better choice. Again, you could try making your own, or you could buy you favorite bars from the store. If you want to give it a shot, you could make your own bars by mixing together oats, nuts, dried fruit or raisins, and some honey or peanut butter - or both!
Make sure the peanut butter or honey is a little warm before you pour it into the dry ingredients. This just makes it easier to mix everything together. Pat the mix down into a baking tin and cut them up into bars. Keep them in your freezer and pop them into an ice box to maintain that chewy goodness during your boat ride.
10. Pigs in a Blanket
Not only are pigs in a blanket the perfect party appetizer, they also make a smart boating food choice. Since they’re so easy to pop into your mouth and munch on, pigs in a blanket allow easy snacking and pose almost zero potential for mess -- even if you’re feeding a bunch of kids. If you’re looking for variety, you can make your own vegetarian pigs in a blanket by throwing in a sun-dried tomato in place of a pig… err, sausage.
11. Lazy Nachos
Nachos are up there with some of the ultimate savory snacks, but because they can be extremely messy, eating them on an ebbing boat can be considered an extreme sport. Fortunately, there are ways you can enjoy your favorite nachos minus the mess. Open up a bag of your favorite corn chips, throw in some cheese, cooked ground beef, diced tomatoes and onions, and whatever else you’re in the mood for and enjoy them right them and there.
12. Chicken Balls
Take some tasty chicken on your boat ride without having to get all of that grease on your hands with some witty chicken balls. Prep is fairly straightforward -- mince some chicken, add in some minced onions, garlic, salt, seasonings, and spices, and then mix them all together. Form little balls and fry in a pan to create bite sized chicken balls perfect to fill up an empty stomach while you’re out on the water.
13. Salad Cups
Here’s probably one of the easiest boat snacks you’re ever going to make. Get a bunch of cups with lids and toss in lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, croutons, grilled chicken, and nuts. Each cup is a single serving. You can then pack along a bottle of your family’s favorite dressing that you can drizzle on at your whim once you get out to the lake. Not only are they extremely filling, but they’re guilt-free to boot.
14. Oatmeal Energy Balls
These no bake energy balls provide a jolt of vigor for those sleepy afternoons waiting for a nibble. Mix together almonds or your choice of nuts, chocolate chips, raisins, oatmeal, and any kind of nut butter. You can also add in chia seeds, flax seeds, and chopped fruit to match your taste buds. When fully combined, roll them up into little balls and toss in the freezer to form. You might also want to keep them in an ice box on board to prevent them from melting into a gooey mess.
15. Cheesy Dynamite
This interesting finger food takes a whole jalapeno pepper stuffed with cheese and ground beef, wrapped in a spring roll wrapper, and then deep fried to perfection. If your family and friends aren’t too fond of the spice, you can take out some of the pepper seeds to reduce the spice. Some people also like breading their cheesy dynamite rolls in layers of bread crumbs, flour, and egg to add a little extra bit of crunch.
16. Cheese Sticks
Mozarella cheese sticks are great boat snacks for adults and kids. Just take some mozarella slices and dip in egg, flour, and breadcrumbs. Deep fry until golden brown, and strain each stick to get rid of excess oil. Pack a jar of marinara sauce which is the perfect pair for this finger food favorite. Keep in mind that storing these cheese sticks for long periods of time could make them soggy and stale. So it helps to eat them before anything else.
17. Hummus and Crispy Flatbread
Hummus is a flavorful dip that works great with crackers, crispy bread, and even vegetables. Take a can of chickpeas, add a few cloves of garlic, some olive oil, tahini, and cumin powder. Mix them together in a conventional food processor until you create a super smooth, consistent paste. Put your hummus in a jar and pack some crackers or bread separately. And now you’ve got the perfect snack for those calm moments sharing stories with family and friends while enjoying the lake view.
18. Homemade Muffins
If you’ve got a muffin maker at home, then you can pretty much make any kind of muffin you want to. The base really just calls for flour, baking powder, milk, sugar, vanilla extract, salt, and cinnamon. Then you change up the flavors by adding in what you feel like. Blueberries, chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, or nut butter are just some of the many potential parts of the muffin equation.
19. Tortilla Pinwheels
Take a flour tortilla and layer on a mix of sour cream, cream cheese, and grated cheese. Then layer on some olives, peppers, onion, and your choice of seasonings. Wrap it all up and slice into thin pinwheels that you can hold together with toothpicks. Stack them in a container and store with other chilled items to keep them nice and fresh when you take them out for snacking.
20. Caprese Vegetable Skewers
Looking for that fullness of flavor without having to go all out with prep? Take some barbeque skewers and add on cherry tomatoes, blocks of mozzarella cheese, and folded fresh basil, then drizzle with olive oil and dressing. You can also keep the dressing on the side in case you’ve got a few guests who like the extra strong flavor.
Tips for Finger Food Snacking on a Boat
One thing you’ll discover about eating on a boat is that it’s never as easy as it seems. The fact is, limited space and lots of movement can make it incredibly difficult to keep things clean and pristine before, during, and after your boating meals. So it really helps to come prepared especially if you want to maintain the cleanliness of your boat and minimize the amount of time you’ll spend fixing up afterwards.
You could save yourself form a world’s worth of hassle and stress by simply packing your food properly and storing appropriately on the boat. Don’t skimp out on quality food containers and make sure you get the ones that really guarantee a solid seal. You also want to see to it that you choose the kinds that let you see inside without having to take off the lids. All of this just prevents major spills and messes that could turn a relaxing afternoon into a day-full of wiping and cleaning.
Think for the Family
It’s tough to allocate portions on a boat if you’re taking food from a common container. Instead, you can try packing separate lunches for everyone. Some people designate containers for each member of the family and toss in all the food that can go together. This means you won’t have to worry about serving out plates while you’re on the water, and everyone gets equal pre-packed portions.
Ever tried organizing and managing a picnic for a family of four, five, or more? Things can get stressful real quick. If your kids tend to keep asking where things are, you might want to label everything for the sake of your sanity. Put names on each of your containers to make sure everyone on the boat knows exactly what and where things are. You can also get a couple of plastic bins to keep food items nice and organized, packing together condiments and sauces in one box, snacks, crackers, and chips in another, and so on.
Take Temperature Into Consideration
The thing about food is that it rarely ever tastes good at room temperature. Some are great cold, others are better when they’re hot - and there’s almost no in between. That said, you’re going to want to invest in an ice box that can help keep your frozen fruits, salads, and desserts nice and cool even after a day on the lake. Insulated food bags and containers also work great to keep hot things warm and toasty.
Don’t Over Pack
So, where were you planning to wash all of those dirty dishes and utensils? Unless you’re cruising on a luxury boat, fully equipped with a kitchen and running water, those used plates, spoons, and forks are going to become a major aftercare problem. And that’s exactly why we’re recommending ‘finger’ foods. Pack light, toss out the plates and cutlery, and opt for foods that you can eat with nothing but your bare hands. Plus points if you can pack them in containers you can eat them straight out of without having to transfer to a different plate or bowl.
Save the Dressing for Later
If you’re planning to pack foods that have dips and sauces, you might want to consider keeping them separate while you’re boating. Food that’s drenched in sauce, dressing, or dip for too long will ultimately soak it up and create a soggy, sloppy mess. Instead, pack them separately and mix them together when it’s time to eat. This applies for salads, pastas, and anything else that might call for an extra flavor drizzle.
Think Bite Sized
Although you might be packing for a whole family (and then some), you might want to consider slicing things up to bite sized proportions. Why’s that? Well, if you’ve ever tried cutting up a foot-long sub while you’re on a boat, you’ll probably know why. So save yourself the time and minimize the risk of a dismembered finger by cutting up what needs to be cut up while you’re at home.
Consider Shelf Life
There are just some foods that get all soggy and stale even just a few minutes or hours after prep. We’re talking about peeled bananas, french fries, and certain types of bread, to name a few. In this case, you’re going to want to think about how long your food is going to stay fresh and appealing before it starts to get too stale for lunch. On that note, you’re also going to want to keep things tightly sealed during the trip to prevent air exposure from cramping your meal prep efforts.
Cheesy Fingers Off the Upholstery
If you’re packing anything that can stain your fingers orange (we’re talking about cheese powder coated chips, crackers, and everything in between), then you’re going to want to tell the kids to keep off the seats. Those strong orange colors can seriously stain vinyl upholstery and make your beige seats look like a hot mess. Either get the snack enthusiasts to enjoy their cheesy snacks elsewhere on deck or don’t pack them along all together. Your seats will thank you for it.
Keep Trash to a Minimum
Trash and waste management can be incredibly different and challenging on a boat, so try to see to it that you’re packing things that don’t require you to throw too many things away. If you can skip out on individually wrapping everything in cling foil or wax paper, then do it. As much as possible, you want all of the food you bring to be ready to eat straight out of the container -- no need to peel, unwrap, or remove anything.
Prepare for the Worst
Although the goal is to make sure you pack nothing that could potentially lead to a monstrous mess, you can’t ever completely eliminate that risk. So when you do make your way out to the water, you’ll want to see to it that you’re prepared for the worst. Pack along some garbage bags, wet wipes, paper towels, cleaning spray, and other quick cleaning essentials to mop up an accident on board. It also doesn’t hurt to have a trash bin on board to keep the mess out of sight until you make your way back to the dock.
Avoid Foods That Could Leave a Smell
Ah yes, some fresh salmon slices might seem like a wonderful way to feel extra luxurious on board. But food that could leave a smell might have you scrubbing away for hours once you’re docked. The same goes for food that easily spoils, like anything with white sauces, raw egg yolk, and even tomatoes. Unless you don’t mind soaking up all that stench while you’re on-board, you’re going to want to avoid them all together.
All Aboard the S.S. Snack Master
It doesn’t take a lot to fulfill the role of Captain Munch. There are loads of easy finger food ideas for boating you can try to spice up your next boating trip and give your family and friends a dose of variety and flavor without comprising on their health. Just make sure you consider these tips and really things things through to make sure your next boating experience is nothing but sunny skies and full stomachs.