BlogJuly 2022

Can You Have a BBQ Grill on a Boat?

Can You Have a BBQ Grill on a Boat?

By Ken Schultz

Jul 28, 2022

A look at boat size, fuel, mounting, and assorted other considerations necessary before you put a bbq grill on a boat 

The possibility of grilling freshly caught fish might entice some boaters to put a bbq grill on a boat. Another reason to put a bbq grill on a boat could be that you’re sleeping overnight on it and need the grill for general cooking. Or maybe your boating includes late-day cruising and enjoying a sterling sunset with a nice plate of hot food.

It is generally permissible to have a bbq grill on a boat, especially one used out on open water. But if you’re planning on cooking at a marina, or a municipal dock or mooring spot, you should check that this is specifically permitted at that site. This is especially true if the site provides boat fuel.

What Kind of Boat?

You can theoretically use a grill on just about any boat. Of course, space and safety are considerations, so generally small boats aren’t practical. Propane-fueled grills can pose a safety concern if they’re located too close to portable or exposed boat-gas tanks. And the limited space in smaller boats make location and mounting difficult.

Houseboats, pontoon boats, and other big vessels with a lot of open space are more practical, especially if they have a raised rail to which the grill can be mounted. Bbq grills for pontoon boats are especially popular. In fact, there are a number of portable grills that can be used on such craft, as well as mounting mechanisms.

What Kind of Grill?

It’s debatable what are the best bbq grills for boats, but there are a variety available (used also for camping, RVs, tailgating, and small events) from reputable manufacturers. These include gas, propane, and electric versions. Electric may not be an option for many boats without an electric port (think about battery drain), and propane is likely the most popular. A charcoal grill, incidentally, is not a good option for safety and cleanup reasons, as well as issues with cooling-down time and ash disposal.

Other Considerations

You should consider surface cooking area and how much food you’ll need to grill, in addition to rail-mount connections. Also keep in mind the difficulty in keeping a flame going, as there is likely to be wind on some occasions when you’re on the boat.

As you would at home, shut off the grill when you’re finished grilling, and don’t leave it unattended while in operation. Don’t grill when the boat is underway. And don’t ignite the grill if you smell boat gas.

Ken Schultz
Ken Schultz
Ken Schultz was a longtime staff writer for Field & Stream magazine and is the former Fishing Editor of He’s written and photographed nineteen books on sportfishing topics, plus an annual fishing tips calendar, and his writing has appeared on various websites for more than two decades. His author website is