There’s a wealth of information online available and on Pontoonopedia about cooking on your pontoon boat, using a grill or BBQ. But what happens when you don’t have a grill on-board? You might need something that you can eat one-handed, that you don’t need to heat up on board, but still tastes delicious… if so I have some great ideas for you that are both tasty and convenient.
I can’t take the credit for most of these, as before I bought my pontoon grill set-up I just used to take pack lunches and small picnics to have when we beached our boat up. To be honest, I am a cheese and ham type of guy, and my family soon became a little bored of that. I asked them to investigate what else could be great food to take on a pontoon boat that doesn’t require heating ,cooking or grilling.
Here’s just some of their ideas which I hope to give you some inspiration if you are looking for pontoon boat food ideas for a party, picnic, or just a day’s fishing on the lakes. Whether it’s a snack idea, something for a lunch or dinner, or party food, you should find something interesting below you can try for yourself.
Food to Take on a Pontoon Boat
So here are those pontoon boat food ideas, in no particular order. If you do decide to use any of these ideas, then I recommend you have the following items at hand:
- Plastic zip lock bags
- Aluminum foil
- Paper plates
- Plastic drink coolers with spouts
- Portable cooler (can keep things hot as well as cool)
- Thermos flask for hot water (or keeping hot dogs warm!)
- 12v beverage warming device (stick it in your mug for a hot drink)
- Garbage bags
I also always carry a marine-grade cooler, with the Yeti Tundra being my personal favourite. You can see the various cooler sizes available on Amazon.
Ideas That are Fast & Easy
Some people won’t take bread for sandwiches, purely because bread doesn’t do too well in the heat. They will also worry about taking food with them that needs to be kept cool. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can take a cooler box with you or keep things cold in a bag with frozen water bottles for a few hours.
Handy Hint: Scroll down past the food ideas as I have put together some recommendations on some great gear you can use make the food you take on your pontoon boat even more enjoyable.
Cooler Corn on the Cob
I love this idea, it’s so ridiculously simple yet effective and you can do it before you leave your house really quickly. All you do is buy a cooler box (perhaps like this marine grade cooler on Amazon). Throw the corn in and cover it with boiling water. Then seal the cooler box back up.
Bring some spray butter with you, and when ready out on the pontoon boat, open up the cooler. Make sure you bring some tongs because the water is still going to be steaming hot. You can take this approach for a big party of people as well.
Cooler or Thermos Hot Dogs with Steamed Buns
You can use exactly the same idea with hot dogs. Before you leave for the day, quickly boil up some hot dogs, then throw them into a smaller cooler with boiling water covering over them and they will start to cook. You can even use Thermos flasks (you can fit loads of dogs in this 64 oz bottle) for this as well. They will remain warm and cooked for hours and can be eaten at any point during the day.
Once ready to eat, place a bag of bread rolls in the sun for 15 minutes in the sealed bag and you have steamed rolls. Then bring the hot dogs out with ketchup and mustard! Just wow… just wow.
Handy Hint: We also have some pontoon boat grill ideas with meat and vegetarian options.
Chips… But Only Pringles!
If you take chips, make them Pringles. Why? Because you have less mess as they kept in the tube rather than splitting open large chip bags where the crumbs can go everywhere. I hate crumbs on my deck!
Candy, Popcorn & Trail Mix Containers
Try filling cylindrical plastic containers that have lids with items like trail mix, popcorn and even M&Ms (from the cooler). These are perfect for placing in the boat cup holders and for passing around to your guests.
The food contents can also be poured out into semi-wet hands without making the rest of the dry goods soggy. This snack idea never fails. Simple, easy, and quick.
Sliced Fruit and Veg
Fruit will help to keep you hydrated on hot day, and it’s easy to pack too, as is sliced veg. We always slice ours up before hand, and then take some form of dip, all wrapped up in aluminum foil and keep in a small cooler box.
Ideas You Will Need to Prepare Before Hand
Don’t be worried about taking warm food onto your pontoon boat. If you cook something beforehand and put it in an empty ice chest or portable cooler, then it will stay warm all day… just as long as you don’t add ice!
If it’s food that needs to keep cool, obviously you can use a portable cooling box, or even use individual foil packs or aluminum foil and keep the food out of the sun in a shaded area for a couple of hours.
Chicken Salad on Wheat Thins
You can create this mix in advance of your trip, and then bring it out once everyone is hungry. All you do is get a couple of cans of shredded white chicken, some sliced grapes, chopped almonds, diced celery, dried cranberries, chopped scallions, garlic salt and a little mayo to moisten it up.
When ready, spoon the salad mix up onto wheat thins.
Jack Daniel’s Pulled Pork with Slider Buns
Cook Jack Daniel’s pulled pork from Sam’s Club in a crock pot in the morning, and then bring the crock pot on board your pontoon boat. It will keep warm if left covered for quite a few hours.
We just slide our crock pot under a seat and leave it there. Then when ready to eat bring it out with slider buns a coleslaw.
Tasty Tacos in a Doritos Bag
This is an easy, delicious and portable idea. Simply make your taco meat mix up the night before and then put it into a sealed container.
When on your pontoon, open up a bag of Doritos and crush them up a little. Then you can add the meat, lettuce, onions and cheese in from your container to tacos in the Doritos bag. They will taste awesome – give the bag a shake up for maximum taco-ness (if that’s a word…).
Grilled Chicken and Steak Sliced Wraps
This is one of our favorites. All you do is marinate some chicken the night before, then grill it up in the morning at home before you go on your boat trip. Alternatively, you can use thin steak slices, they work just as well.
You can then make some really tasty wraps with lettuce, onions, peppers, salsa, black beans, sour cream, guacamole, and virtually anything else that goes with it. It’s a big hit!
Hawaiian Bread Rolls with Your Choice of Fillings
Make some Hawaiian bread rolls. Just slice the entire bread roll horizontally then layer with your favorite deli meats and cheese, mustard mayo or your preferred spread. Then put the layer of bread back on, put back in the cardboard tray, slice them into squares or leave whole for pull apart, slide tray back into wrapper and put in a portable cooler.
You can make a few different ones with various meats and toppings. Write on wrapper what they are so that there is something for everyone and they don’t get mixed up.
Snack Kabobs (Vegetarian, Meat, or Mixed)
Break wooden kabob sticks in half and you can create snack kabobs with different fruit and vegetables, including grape tomatoes, olives, chunks of string cheese, slices of pepperoni and more.
Make sure that you wrap them in aluminum, clearly label them, and leave them packed into your portable cooler box.
Best Boat Snacks – Good & Healthy Options
I hope that this list has given you some great ideas on what you could take on your boat this year. I’ve got plenty of other suggestions too, and in fact recently published an entirely new guide for good boat snacks for a boat ride – many of which are very healthy.
If you would like to explore a longer list of healthy snacks to take on a boat, then I would recommend that you take a look at these additional ideas.
There are 21 ideas in that additional list of the best boat snacks for a ride or trip. Those include pasta salad, unsalted pretzels, unsalted popcorn, California veggie wraps, the right type of cheese, tuna sandwiches, hummus with crackers, oven roasted almonds, zucchini chips and a few surprises you might not expect!
Additional Pontoon Food Idea Comments
In addition to the suggestions made above, here are some pontoon boat food ideas that I have collected from other pontoon boat owners. There are some awesome ideas in here worth taking a look at.
“A good mirror lined thermos with hot water can stay piping hot for hours to make instant coffee, tea, soup and many other nice warm things. Once that sun goes down its nice to have something warm for the windy ride back to the dock. A 12v beverage warmer is also nice to have to heat up water on the spot.”
“We buy foot long subs from Walmart cut them in quarters, then place them in zip lock baggies. Carrots, celery, dip, Pringles or Lays in a can. Cut up cantaloupe, pineapple, etc. take a cooler just for food. Keep cold with frozen water bottles. Fast and easy.”
“Lettuce wraps, home-made pinwheels, fruit, fried chicken (cold), fresh veggies and dip. Cold pasta salads made with or without meat. Make a salad and throw on a couple cold grilled chicken breasts.”
“We take cold chicken, fruit, veggies and dip, meat and cheese, tortilla roll ups, sub sandwiches, pickle roll ups… and of course chips, popcorn, assorted candy, a dessert that won’t melt, and snack crackers.”
“Before we had kids and would boat with friends we would make brisket burritos with cheese and pico! They are so good cold out of the cooler.”
“We like to make slider type sandwiches with King’s Hawaiian Rolls, repack them in the the original package and throw them in the cooler. Our favorite at the moment is homemade pimiento cheese with shrimp and bacon.”
“We buy a veggie plate for snacks. If it’s dinner or lunchtime, then it’s cold fried chicken with coleslaw. We try not to take anything too messy…and of course, a cold beverage!”
“We stop and pick up subs put them in a zip lock bags and throw them into a small cooler box. No grilling is needed and it’s just easy. Then we bring fruit, veggies, dip and snacks too.”
“Our usual snacks are veggies and dip, chips and homemade salsa, hummus, crackers, and nuts. We sometimes take deli meat and buns and bread, and all those condiment packets that collect in the fridge. Other ideas are shrimp, BBQ meatballs, smoked salmon, fried chicken. I always have wet wipes and a zip lock bags filled with paper plates, napkins, and plastic utensils in the boat bag too.”
How About a Portable Grill for the Beach or Deck?
Even if you don’t want to buy a grill and mount for your pontoon boat, you can still buy portable grills that you can set up on the beach, so you can the cook brats, hot dogs, burgers, and vegetable kabobs.
If you do decide to buy a portable grill then I would also recommend that you take cheese balls, summer sausage, cut up watermelon and cantaloupe. Anything tastes better on whilst on the beach and your pontoon is tied down!