Wednesday, May 22, 2024

27 Best Boating Snacks and Appetizers

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If you’re looking for healthy snacks, appetizers and finger food to enjoy on a boat, we’ve got you covered!

These delicious boating snacks are easy-to-make, portable, no-mess and nutritious.

Popular with all ages, from toddlers to seniors, they’re perfect for short boat excursions, sailing trips or a full day of entertaining on a pontoon boat or yacht.

A tray of tortellini skewer appetizers to take on a boat.
These tortellini caprese skewers make a great appetizer for a boat party. 

In boating season in Ontario, we usually spend full days on the water fishing for bass or walleye, swimming off sandbars or cruising around looking at turtles, eagles and other wildlife.

While our pontoon boat (Bennington 20 SV) seats 8 comfortably (and has a cute table and lots of cup holders), it doesn’t have a refrigerator.

A Bennington pontoon boat on Rice Lake with food.
Enjoy a few snacks while boating on Rice Lake. 

That means all of our boat food has to fit into soft-sided coolers.

So the boat snacks we bring must be compact, ready to eat and resistant to spoilage.

Best Boating Snacks and Finger Foods

Here are some of our favourites.

They’re perfect whether you’ve got a pontoon boat, a runabout, a bass fishing boat or any other recreational boat that doesn’t have a galley or cooking facilities.

Pair the foods with one of our nautical-themed boating cocktails.

This list of boat food ideas will make your summer!

 1. Mini Ham and Cheese Egg Bites

A stack of mini egg bites.

These mini egg bites are the solution to what to pack for snacks to bring on a boat for a day of fishing.

If you have an early start to the day these bite-sized ham and cheese frittatas do double-duty as a breakfast on the go.

They’re foolproof to make, travel well and zero-mess – a trifecta that makes them one of the best boating snacks.

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2. Puff Pastry Pizza Bites

Puff pastry pizza bites mini pizzas

You can never go wrong with pizza. And while toting a whole pizza onto a boat can get messy, these mini pizza bites are made with tidy squares of puff pastry.

That means  you control the amount of sauce! They’re ready in no time, crispy, cheesy, and perfect for all-ages.

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3. Crispy Marinated Artichoke Hearts

Crispy Baked marinated artichoke hearts.

The ultimate finger snack, baked artichoke hearts are tasty on their own or as a substitute for crackers when served with a dip or ceviche.

We love themed menus when entertaining on our pontoon and crispy artichoke hearts pair well with many Mediterranean foods and cocktails.

These artichoke hearts are as addictive as carciofi alla giudìa the famous dish that originated in the Jewish community of Rome.

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4. Mediterranean Pizza Pasta Salad

A white bowl of pizza Pasta salad.

Pasta salads travel well and do double duty as both appetizers and sides to sandwiches, kebabs and sandwich wraps. For food safety when boating, always try to opt for a salad that won’t spoil easily.

Packed with cheese, pasta, pepperoni, tomatoes and kalamata olives, this hearty Pizza Pasta Salad is delicious as a light lunch or dinner party food.

Another favourite pasta salad is this easy Greek Orzo Salad. 

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5. Veggie Sticks

Vegetable sticks make healthy and nutritious boating snacks.

Simply cut up your veggies of choice (cucumbers, carrots, jicama, celery) and pack them in a container with a few pieces of ice.

Serve sprinkled with Tajín, the Mexican chili/lime seasoning. Or make your own spice mixture at home.

No recipe needed!

6. Babybel Cheese

If you’re looking for another no-cook, no-mess snack, mini Babybel cheese rounds are an easy boat food snack. They travel well and are popular with all ages including toddlers.

This semi-soft ripened cheese is also packed with protein and calcium.

Try a variety pack of the original, gouda and Swiss Babybel cheeses to switch it up.

7. Mini Cobb Salad Kabobs

Cobb Salad Kebab with dip.

A salad on a stick is the ultimate boating snack when it comes to healthy goodness and serving convenience.

And these Cobb Salad Kabobs feature all of the classic elements of a Cobb salad like iceberg lettuce, hard boiled eggs, bacon, avocado, and tomatoes on a tidy kebab stick.

For extra fun, serve with a creamy blue cheese dressing dip.

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8. Hummus or Bean Dip

For an easy boat snack, stock up on store-bought original hummus or make your own with this healthy vegan Kale Pesto Hummus Recipe.

Be sure to keep the container well-sealed until ready to serve.

9. Rice Crackers

Choose low-salt rice crackers for the healthiest option. Remove the crackers from the plastic packaging and transfer to a plastic storage container so the cellophane package doesn’t blow away when you’re boating.

🌟 Pro Tip: You can also use empty Pringles potato chip containers to prevent crackers from getting crushed.

10. Shrimp Devilled Eggs

Shrimp Deviled Eggs appetizer for boating on a white plate.

Devilled eggs are a summer time classic so everyone loves them as a snack for a day on the water.

Not only is this recipe for shrimp devilled eggs packed with protein but the seafood  makes them extra special for entertaining. This finger food is the ideal boating appetizer if you’re looking for something fancy.

Consider purchasing a special food holder/egg tray to keep them cold (and intact!) while transporting them to your boat.

🌟 Pro Tip: Save the egg shells when making hard-boiled eggs!  According to popular fishing lore, crushed egg shells attract pike, perch and pickerel. So if you’re having a slow day on the water, sprinkle some crushed shells overboard.

You’ll soon discover if it’s true that chumming with egg shells attracts fish!

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11. Mini Caprese Salad Skewers

Caprese salad skewers on a platter with balsamic vinegar over the top.

Heart-healthy appetizers on a toothpick are always a hit when boating!  They’re easy to eat and delicious.

These 3-ingredient mini Caprese salad skewers make an easy-to-eat appetizer that’s perfect for all your summer party needs. Drizzle the skewers with a balsamic glaze or basil pesto just before serving.

Tortellini skewers are another handy finger food for boating. Simply thread cooked tortellini, baby bocconcini, cherry tomatoes and basil leaves on small wooden skewers.

For a spicier version, add folded slices of spicy salami and pitted olives to the skewers to make Italian antipasto skewers.  

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12. Tinned Fish (Seacuterie Tray )

A tray of tinned seafood served on open-faced sandwich.

Canned fish is nutritious, ready-to-eat and portable as the serving-sized tins are virtually indestructible.

They’re delicious as part of a “seacuterie” tray, similar to a charcuterie platter but focused on seafood instead of cured meats.

It typically includes an assortment of smoked fish, cured shellfish, seafood spreads, pickled seafood, and other ocean-inspired delicacies served on a platter for sharing

If you’re not ready for the strong flavour of canned sardines, try a craft seafood like Scout’s canned Ontario rainbow lake trout.

These delicate filets are topped with herbaceous dill in cold-pressed sunflower oil.

Another option is to serve tinned fish on a smørrebrød. a traditional Danish open-faced sandwich.

These filling snacks are made of dense rye bread topped with herring, spreads, and garnishes such as fresh dill, marinated red onion, blue cheese or tart pickles.

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13. Popcorn

Homemade popcorn makes a delicious and healthy boat snack that needs no refrigeration.

Try this quick and easy recipe for Parmesan Popcorn. It’s ready in under 10 minutes!

14. Mini Corn Dogs

mini corn dogs on a summer napkin.

These yummy homemade mini corn dogs are guaranteed to disappear before your boat even leaves the dock! They’re also healthier than store-bought.

They’re the ultimate finger food for boating.

Kids absolutely love them so be sure to make extra.

Satisfying and savoury, they’re a bit like frikandel, the popular Dutch tapas consisting of a deep-fried sausage served with sauces like mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard.

Serve these tasty snacks with a grainy mustard for the adults in your group.

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15. Pickled Eggs

Pickled eggs are another delicious boat food snack. You can make them at home with this easy, no-canning method.

All you need is a nice big jar, hard-boiled eggs, and a brine to make classic pickled eggs for your boat trip.

16. Prosciutto Melon Mozzarella Skewers

Prosciutto Mozzarella Skewers in summertime.

Another classic summer appetizer, this recipe for prosciutto melon mozzarella skewers combines the sweet and salty flavours of prosciutto and melon.

In this boat-friendly finger food, the fruity ingredients (use honeydew or cantaloupe) are combined with creamy mozzarella and mint on short wooden skewers.

The balsamic glaze reduction makes them irresistible.

A fave with all ages!

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17. Hummus Stuffed Peppers

A tray of hummus stuffed bell peppers.

This healthy boating appetizer features sweet mini peppers stuffed with creamy hummus.

We love this vegetarian recipe because it’s very easy to make using store-bought hummus. But it looks as though it took hours to make!

It’s also a beautiful presentation if you use a variety of coloured peppers.

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18. Cheese Straws

A classic snack food in the UK and North America , cheese straws are crispy twists of  cheddar cheese, butter, flour and cayenne.

Try variations of types of cheese, spices and even nuts.  Serve with hummus, guacamole or other fave dip in an individual container.

19. Guacamole

Guacamole in a molcajete.
Homemade guacamole is economical and easy to make.

With its creamy texture and zesty flavour, guacamole is an excellent snack for boating, especially on a hot day out on the water.

Its portability makes it a breeze to pack and transport, fitting snugly into sealed containers or airtight bags without risk of spillage.

While it’s best to keep guacamole chilled to maintain its freshness, it can withstand short periods without refrigeration, making it ideal for boating trips.

Packed with healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals from its primary ingredient, avocados, guacamole provides a nutritious boost to keep you energized throughout your boating excursion.

It also pairs well with a variety of snacks, such as tortilla chips, veggies, or even as a topping for sandwiches or salads.

We often serve guacamole as a topping for Beef & Mint Salpicon, a chilled salad popular in Mexico and Guatemala.

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20. Smoked Salmon Bites

Smoked salmon and cream cheese on a black plate.

Smoked salmon and cream cheese is a classic for entertaining. But balancing open faced crackers on a boat can be a challenge.

Solve the problem (and avoid a mess) by by whipping up a batch of these smoked salmon roll-ups.

This impressive finger food is held together with an hors d’oeuvre stick and topped with pieces of olive and lemon for pizzazz.

Best of all they take just 10 minutes to make!

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21. Cheese Curds

Go local with cheese curds in a bag. These deliciously salty, cheese bites make a great picnic food.

Just pick up a bag on your way to the lake and enjoy their fresh, squeaky flavour when you arrive.

22. Olive and Cheese Pinwheel Appetizers

Olive and cheee pinwheel appetizers for boating.

Pinwheels are mini-versions of wraps so they’re easy to make, fuss-free and uncomplicated. That’s pretty much everything you want in a summer recipe!

This olive and cheese pinwheel recipe calls for just three ingredients which makes it a winner when planning our boating excursions.

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23. Fresh Grapes

Grapes serve as a refreshing appetizer due to their crisp texture, juicy burst of flavour, and natural sweetness. They’re also very portable as they don’t crush easily.

For boating convenience, go for fresh green grapes.

Wash them at home, refrigerate the grapes (stems intact) in a portable container lined with paper towel. For some extra fun, you can also freeze them.

A handy boating hack is to reuse old creamer bottles for storage. No more squished fruit or pesky flies!

24. Protein Bars

Packages of Mid-Day Squares on a white table.

I’m not a huge fan of most granola bars as the wrappers often blow away and the bars tend to crumble.

For a sweet treat that’s sturdy and also curbs hunger cravings, pop some Mid-Day Squares in your boat cooler.

Crafted in Montreal, these plant-based treats are packed with protein, fiber and other nutrients.

Although they’re similar to chocolate bars, they won’t melt as easily in the heat.

25. Spice Snack Mix

For a nutritious easy boat snack, stock up on individual packages of spiced nuts. They come in handy if you’re out on the water long than planned.

Or, whip up some homemade vegan Chex Mix or homemade trail mix.

26. Tortilla Wraps

Spicy chicken wrap on a blue plate.
Tortilla wraps make the perfect portable meal for road trips or boating.

Whether you call them tortilla wraps, burritos or handheld meals, wraps are a popular boat lunch. Wraps don’t have to be boring!

Discover a world of flavour in our collection of easy tortilla wrap recipes from around the world to make for your next boat day.

Another option is to cut each wrap into smaller pieces and serve as appetizers.

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27. Coconut Shrimp

Coconut shrimp with some wedges of lime.

Add some tropical flair to your boating menu with this coconut shrimp appetizer. They also happen to be keto and gluten-free.

This recipe calls for a little more work than some of the other finger foods on our list. But coconut shrimp is such a popular boat party appetizer it’s well worth adding to your menu.

Serve with a sweet and spicy dip and you’re good to go.

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Final Thoughts on Boat Day Food

So whether you’re cruising across a mirrored lake, tubing with the kids or gently drifting down a river, the right boat day snacks can elevate your experience from ordinary to extraordinary.

From the satisfying crunch of coconut shrimp to the creamy indulgence of guacamole, there’s a snack to suit every taste and occasion in our collection of recipes and snack food to bring on a boat.

Don’t forget the importance of food safety! Use a cooler with ice packs or frozen gel packs to keep your snacks cold and fresh throughout your day on the water, ensuring that every bite is as delicious and enjoyable as the last.

So, pack your cooler and set sail with confidence, knowing that the perfect cold food snacks are right at your fingertips.

Note: This collection of recipes and easy boat snacks was originally published in 2021 but was updated and expanded with new ideas, recipes and photos in 2024.

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Collage of three ready to eat boat foods.

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