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If you’re looking for healthy snacks and appetizers 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.
In boating season in Ontario, we usually spend full days on the water fishing for bass or walleye, swimming off sandbars or just cruising around looking at turtles, eagles, loons and other wildlife.
When it’s time to eat, we drop anchor on the leeward side of an island or in a protected cove away from passing watercraft.
While our pontoon boat (a Bennington 20 SV) seats 8 comfortably (and has a cute table and lots of cup holders), it doesn’t have a refrigerator. That means all of our boat food has got to fit into soft-sided coolers.
So, much as with our tortilla wrap boat lunch recipes, the boat snacks we bring must be compact, ready to eat and resistant to spoilage.
Check out: The Best Boating Cocktails to Try at the Cottage This Summer
Best Snack Foods for a Day on the Water
Here are our favourite boat snack ideas to take to the lake on a boat ride or a yacht party:
- Tortellini Skewers: Tortellini skewers make a handy finger food for boating. These 3-ingredient appetizers are simple to prepare and fun to serve. Simply thread cooked tortellini, baby bocconcini, cherry tomatoes and basil leaves on small wooden skewers. Drizzle the skewers with a balsamic glaze or basil pesto just before serving. For a spicier version, add folded slices of spicy salami and pitted olives to the skewers to make an Italian Antipasto style skewers.
- Mini Babybel Cheese: Mini Babybel cheese rounds are an easy boat food snack because they travel so 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.
- Tinned Fish: Canned fish is nutritious, ready-to-eat and portable as the serving-sized tins are virtually indestructible. 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.
- Spiced Snack Mix: For on-the-go food on a boat, stock up on individual packages of spiced nuts. Or, whip up some homemade vegan Chex Mix or homemade trail mix.
- Fresh Grapes and Cherries: For a vegan snack a good choice is fruit. Try fresh grapes and cherries, pre-washed and stored in a portable container. A handy hack is to reuse old creamer bottles for storage. No more squished fruit or pesky flies!
- 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. You can also use empty Pringles potato chip containers to prevent crackers from getting crushed.
- 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.
- Hard-boiled Eggs: Hard-boiled eggs are a classic healthy snack for boat days. Not only are they an excellent source of protein (and keto snack) but according to popular fishing lore, crushed egg shells attract fish pike perch and pickerel. So if you’re having a slow day on the water, peel the eggs and sprinkle some shells overboard. You’ll soon discover if it’s true that chumming with egg shells really does attract fish!
- Cheese Straws: A classic snack food in the UK and North America these delicious bites are a crispy twists of cheddar cheese, butter, flour and cayenne. Try variations of types of cheese, spices and even nuts.
- Pickled Eggs: Pickled eggs are another delicious boat food option. 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.
- 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. In Northumberland County, look for cheese produced by the Empire Cheese Factory. Originally built in the late 1870s, today it’s a cooperative that produces a variety of hand-crafted, award-winning cheeses. Visit their factory store in Campbellford or a local retailer.
- 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.
- Granola Bars: 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 goodness like Omega-3. The chocolate topping is gluten-free, vegan, organic, dairy-free, non-GMO and soy-free. Order a variety pack of the Fudge Yah, Almond Crunch and Busta Peanut flavours and watch them disappear!
- 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!
- Pasta Salad: Pasta salads travel well and do double duty as both appetizers and sides to sandwiches, kebabs and wraps. For food safety, opt for a salad that contains no mayonnaise. One of our favourites is this easy Greek Orzo Salad. Or try this Classic Italian Pasta Salad or chilled Guatemalan Beef & Mint Salpicon Salad.
Boating Appetizer and Finger Food Recipes
For something more substantial than a snack, these boating appetizers and finger foods can double as a light lunch or dinner party food. This list of boat food ideas will make your summer!
These savoury bites are perfect for taking on a boat ride 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. They're all healthy and mess-free.
Serve them cold or at room temp as directed in each recipe.
Mini Cobb Salad Kabobs
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.
Shrimp Deviled Eggs
Deviled 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 deviled eggs packed with protein but seafood makes them an extra special treat. Consider
purchasing a special food holder/egg tray to keep them cold (and intact!) while
transporting them to your boat.
Easy Mini Corn Dogs Recipe
These yummy homemade mini corn dogs are guaranteed to disappear before your boat even leaves the dock! They're also healthier than store-bought. Kids absolutely love them so be sure to make extra. Serve with a grainy mustard for the adults in your group.
Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates
These oh-so-portable creamy goat cheese stuffed dates have the perfect balance of sweet and savoury flavour with satisfying crunch from the pecans. Baked in advance and served at room temperature, these are an especially easy finger food for boating.
Prosciutto Melon Mozzarella Skewers
Another classic summer appetizer combines the sweet and salty flavours of prosciutto and melon. In this boat-friendly finger food, the ingredients ( use watermelon or cantaloupe) are combined with creamy mozzarella and mint on short wooden skewers. A fave with all ages.
Hummus Stuffed 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 and it's a beautiful presentation if you use a variety of coloured peppers.
Smoked Salmon Bites
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.
The Best Mini Egg Bites with Ham and Cheese
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.
Puff pastry pizza bites
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 and you control the amount of sauce. They're ready in no time, crispy, cheesy, and perfect for all-ages.
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 go well with many Mediterranean foods and cocktails.
Olive and Cheese Pinwheel Appetizers
Pinwheels are mini-versions of wraps so are easy to make, fuss-free and uncomplicated - everything you want in a summer recipe. This olive and cheese pinwheel recipe calls for just three ingredients which makes it a winner in our boat.
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 this collection of easy tortilla wrap recipes from around the world to make for your next boat day.
Gluten-Free Keto Coconut Shrimp
Add some tropical flair to your boating menu with this coconut shrimp appetizer. They also happen to be keto and gluten-free. Add a sweet and spicy dip and you're good to go.
A seafood appetizer is a natural for a day on the water! While most ceviche recipes call for raw shrimp or fish "cooked" in lime, this version uses shrimp cooked by heat - important food safety when you don't have a refrigerator on your boat. For a Latin-inspired boat party idea, serve this refreshing appetizer in individual cups with tiny forks (available at most Dollar stores).
Mushroom Palmiers (Easy Puff Pastry Appetizer Recipe)
For a fancy boating appetizer that can be made in advance you can't beat these French-inspired puff pastry Mushroom Palmiers. The layers of buttery goodness make them both impressive and versatile. Serve them at room temperature with zero last-minute prep. .
Dividing her time between Canada, Guatemala and Mexico (or the nearest tropical beach), Michele Peterson is the founder of A Taste for Travel. Her award-winning travel and food writing has appeared in Lonely Planet’s cookbook Mexico: From the Source, National Geographic Traveler, Fodor’s and 100+ other publications.
Read more about Michele Peterson.