Where there’s fun and sun, there should be food. Maybe for your past pontoon boat trips, you’ve been all about the prepacked meals and snacks that you prepared the night before. And although that might have satisfied your guests for a while, there’s no reason you can’t cook up a hot, fresh meal on board.
A pontoon boat grill opens up endless opportunities for boaters who want to mix up their marine menu. So to help you expand your horizons and see just what you might be able to cook up for your boat guests, here are some delectable pontoon boat grill ideas and recipes worth trying out.
What You’ll Need
First, some of you may be wondering, can you even grill on a pontoon boat?
The answer is yes, however be sure to check out our guide on this so make sure you follow the rules.
Previously, it was assumed that cooking on deck was reserved to boat owners who had more sophisticated pontoon models complete with a kitchenette. But that’s not how it has to be. There are lots of different accessories, appliances, and extras you can buy to equip your pontoon with a makeshift kitchen.
Wondering what you’ll need to get grilling? Here are some essentials:
Pontoon Boat Grill
You’re going to need a grill, of course. But unlike a typical grill that you would have at home, a pontoon boat grill is fixed to the top of your rails so it doesn’t eat up floor area, and it doesn’t risk toppling over on deck.
We recommend the Cuisinart Grill for Pontoon Boats.
For more recommendations check out the best pontoon boat grills.
Some grill manufacturers sell portable grills for various situations, like camping. These can be used on boats by way of a grill mount that’s often sold separately. This just makes sure you don’t have any accidents on board while your grill is in use.
Check out the Magma Grill Mount.
Cooler or Mini Fridge
If you’re going to whip up some fresh meals, then you’re going to need fresh ingredients. A cooler can let you store meats and vegetables and keep them fresh hours after you leave the dock. A mini fridge might be able to do the same thing, as long as it gets cool enough for meat and veggie storage.
Unless you’re planning to flip those patties with your bare hands, you’re going to need a set of grilling utensils. You could always just take the ones you have at home, but having a designated set for your boat can be much more practical especially if you’re planning to grill on board regularly.
You should consider this Veken BBQ Grill Set.
Things can get doubly messy when you’ve got a grill on board. We’re talking double the dishes and extra grease on everything. If there isn’t any running water on board, you could make do with a portable sink to rinse off your utensils and plates after a day of on-deck grilling.
While you probably already have one board (as required by the law), it’s worth mentioning that a fire extinguisher becomes extra important when you’re grilling on board a pontoon boat. Make sure yours is still in proper working condition so it’s ready in case the need arises.
We find this Portable Hand Wash Station from On The Spot Solutions very handy to have around.
Pontoon Boat Grill Recipes You Need to Try
Wondering what to cook up at your next boat trip? Obviously, a pontoon boat doesn’t seem like the right place to cook up elaborate meals that call for lots of delicate ingredients and preparations. So you might have to reserve those fancy recipes for your home kitchen. But even then, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a delicious meal prepared on deck. Here are a few simple yet oh so scrumptious meals to try cooking on your boat:
1. Grilled Skewers
Now, the specifics are entirely up to you. Some people enjoy shrimp, while others choose chicken or beef chunks. It really depends on what you feel like eating. What’s nice about skewers is that you can prepare all the nitty gritty the night before. Marinate some meat of your choice and then push them through a skewer. Then you can add cherry tomatoes, red bell peppers, onions, and pineapple cubes in between.
Skewers tend to be one of the easiest to clean up, making them especially ideal if you’ve got a bunch of messy kids on board. If you run out, you can always rinse off the metal skewers, and reload them with pieces of meat and veggies you can keep in tubs in your cooler.
We like using the Flat Metal Kabob Skewers from Jomverl.
2. Summer Salad
You’re probably thinking that you don’t really need a grill to prepare a salad, but there’s more than one way to skin a cat. This summer salad recipe adds a twist to your favorite side dish, adding a little excitement, color, and flavor to an otherwise boring dish.
Take a sheet of tin foil and place in sliced mushrooms, bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, potatoes, and whatever else you feel like tossing in, and then drizzle with a hefty amount of olive oil. Season everything with Italian seasoning, some fresh garlic cloves, onion, and salt and pepper.
Again, you can prepare all of that the night before you leave and then just fold up the tin foil and place it your cooler. Then you can pop the foil pack out of your cooler once you’re on the water and place it as is on the grill. The sealed foil should help keep all the delicious juice and flavor in as your summer salad heats up.
It doesn’t really take long for all of those vegetables to soften up and infuse with the flavor of your seasonings. So after about 10 minutes, take it off of the grill and let the residual heat finish up the cooking process.
3. Good Old Fashioned Beef Burgers
After all, you really can’t go wrong with a bunch of burgers fresh off of the grill. You have the option to make your own beef patties at home, or to bring along a few store bought packs of your choice of burger patty. Slap them down on the grill and wait for the heat to work its magic.
The morning before your trip, slice up some tomatoes, onions, and pickles, and keep them in separate tubs for storage in your cooler. Then you can bring along some cheese slices and buns that you can heat up on the grill for a few seconds to really give those burgers some extra oomph.
4. Grilled Whole Fish
Now here’s a little something for the anglers. If you’re planning to go fishing while you’re out, you can actually come up with a delicious meal for all of your guests by packing along the right ingredients. Note that the seasonings depend on your taste, but if you’re in bass country, then you can try this fancy lemon grilled fish recipe.
Once your fish is gutted and the scales are removed, brush it generously with lots of olive oil. Then season it with salt and pepper just as you would with any other recipe, but this time, slice the fish lengthwise from its lower jaw to its tail so you have to exact halves.
Then stuff in lemon slices, thyme, rosemary, sage, and parsley. Wrap the whole fish in foil, toss in a few cloves of garlic and add one last spritz of olive oil before you seal the deal and throw it on the grill.
5. Steak and Veggies
You really can’t tackle the topic of grilling without mentioning steak along the way. While you’re at home, season your favorite steak cut and keep it in a Ziploc bag with some fresh herbs and garlic. You can also drizzle it with a little olive oil so it’s ready to toss on the grill when you board your boat.
Although any steak should do, it’s always better to go with a tender cut - like the tenderloin or filet mignon - so you won’t have to worry too much about getting the perfect rareness especially while you’re on the waves.
To lock in all the flavorful juice, place the steak and select veggies on a sheet of tin foil and fold up the edges so as to seal the steak inside. Don’t forget to keep a stalk of rosemary and a few cloves of garlic inside with it. A generous drizzle of olive oil should also be in order.
Make sure you turn it over regularly to get an even cook on all sides. After about 5 minutes, you can open up the foil and get rid of the garlic and rosemary. Some boaters like to get rid of the foil and then place the bare steak on the grill for one to two minutes just to get that extra flavor on the exterior.
Tips for Grilling on a Pontoon Boat
Cooking and grilling on a pontoon boat can be a brand new experience, so it’s only normal to feel a little clumsy and confused as you learn the ropes. To help streamline your grilling experience, consider these tips:
Never Grill While Your Boat is Moving
You might be excited to get the food ready before you get to your destination, but operating on a grill on a moving boat is asking for trouble. Wait to dock your boat or to anchor before you fire her up.
Consider the Wind
Always cook downwind of anything flammable. The last thing you’d want is your bimini top catching fire after embers from your grill are blown straight into the material. If it’s a particularly windy day, then you might be better off grilling at the marina or dock.
You might be used to drizzling some lighter fluid on your grill at home, but the conditions on a pontoon boat might not be ideal for that. Accelerants can cause major accidents like fires to break out on board, especially if they’re not handled properly.
Keep Your Eyes on the Grill
It doesn’t really matter if you’re just stepping away to check on something for a few minutes or seconds. Never leave the grill unattended. If you have to step away, make sure you ask someone else on board to keep an eye on the grill while you’re occupied.
Do a Thorough Inspection Before You Leave
Are there any gas leaks coming from your grill? Are all the connections intact and functional? Any missing pieces or potentially dangerous damage? See to it that you thoroughly check all of your grill’s parts and functions before you go and don’t use it if you suspect any damage or danger.
Careful When You Grill
Don’t let the excitement get the best of you. Avoid getting any embers on your deck by working slowly and gently with your grill. In case you do get an ember on deck, sweep it up swiftly with a metal dustpan and douse it off with a spritz of water. Avoid letting embers sit on your deck, no matter how small they might seem.
Use Your Grill as Intended
There are some boaters who think they can hack their grill and use it as something else entirely - like an oven, a stove top, or even a warmer for when the winds get a little too cold on board. Read through the manual and make sure you use your grill as the manufacturer intended. They might not cover any damages that come as a result of irresponsible or unintended use.
Keep Kids and Pets Away
See to it that you inform all the little ones on board that the grill isn’t a play thing. If you plan to grill during a boat ride, ask someone else to keep kids and pets such as dogs and cats away from the grill at all times, even when it isn’t operating.
Boat Ride Buffet
A simple grill can revolutionize the way you enjoy on-deck meals. So whether you’re planning a humble outing for the family or if you’re looking to host your very best friends for an afternoon of sun, fun, and food, there’s loads to gain out of using your pontoon grill.
Now if you’re not quite sure what to cook up but you’re feeling a little extra creative and adventurous, these pontoon boat grill ideas should set you off on the path to a truly memorable meal as you enjoy the waves and the wind.