The best marine grills must meet a few basic standards to withstand the harsh conditions of life at sea. Here’s how to find the right one for your vessel.
Marine grills are neither a bare necessity nor a frivolous luxury, yet they are one appliance that every boat owner should consider installing.
A rail-mounted or portable grill might not see everyday use, but keep in mind that these devices are relatively inexpensive, don’t take up much space, and offer auxiliary meal preparation should the galley stove prove uncooperative.
A marine grill also complements the ambiance of being outside on the water. It is the perfect device for grilling your catch of the day, charring vegetables, or even baking bread. When all else fails, a grill is there to save the day.
How to find the best marine grill for your boat
Marine grills come in two basic shapes: round and rectangular. Kettle-style grills are more aerodynamic, which is especially important on a sailboat. Rectangular grills offer more cooking area at the expense of increased windage.
A marine grill should be constructed of high-grade stainless steel, although some economy models are made of aluminum. Most units intended for marine use are made of either 18-8 or 300-series stainless steel.
The fuel source can be natural gas, propane, or even charcoal. An infrared burner is state-of-the-art in modern grilling technology, and some marine grills convert gas to infrared heat for a more even cooking surface.
While there are plenty of portable grills that will work on a boat, for safety’s sake, limit your search to those that are mountable. A purpose-built marine grill should fasten securely to either a rail, a pedestal, or a rod holder. Mounting hardware is often sold separately.
A portable grill that incorporates folding legs with a quick-release mounting system offers the best of both worlds for use on the boat or the beach.
When it comes to cooking area, small vessels are best suited to kettle grills from about 130 to 165 sq. in. of cook surface, while larger boats can accommodate grills with grates from about 250 to 300 sq. in.
At the end of the day, it’s all about the heat. More BTUs means more capacity for you and your guests. Depending on your application, any grill in the range of 6,000 to 13,000 BTUs will get the job done.
6 of the best marine grills on the market
Magma Original Marine Kettle Gas Grill
Best marine grill with kettle hood
• Original has a compact 133 sq.-in. cook area (Party size 177” sq. in)
• Aerodynamic kettle shape.
• Moderately priced.
• Multiple fuel sources and mounting options.
• 18-8 stainless steel is not as corrosion resistant as higher grades of stainless.
• Less capacity than rectangle models.
The Magma kettle sets the standard for seaworthy round marine grills. At less than 8 pounds, the Original 15-inch version (10,700 BTUs) is ideal for smaller vessels. The grill is also available in a Party size for larger boats.
The entire grill is made of 18-8 stainless steel, and the aerodynamic clamshell top is balanced so that it won’t slam shut in a breeze. The grill can also be rotated to position the top as a windbreak.
The grill operates on a standard 1-pound propane bottle, but you can connect it to onboard propane or natural gas. Magma sells a variety of mounting hardware separately, including rail, bulkhead, pedestal, and rod-holder mounts.
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Kuuma Stow N Go 160
Best marine grill for all-around use
• More capacity than kettle grills.
• Rugged construction.
• Easy set-up.
• Portable for boat or beach use.
• Heavier than kettle grills.
• The lowest setting is still pretty high heat, which could burn foods.
For more cooking surface, take a look at the Kuuma Stow N Go from Camco. The Stow N Go grill is available in a variety of sizes, but the 160 is a solid medium-size marine grill for larger boats.
The retractable legs make it suitable for tabletop or beach cooking, and the quick-release mounts (sold separately) fasten securely to any rail, stanchion, or rod holder.
Kuuma marine grills are made of 304 stainless, which is a great balance between strength and corrosion resistance. Propane fuel provides 13,000 BTUs of cooking power. There is also a charcoal version and an option for electric ignition and a thermometer. Note: model 58138 is the model number for the Stow N Go 160 with EU-style gas fitting.
Cuisinart Petit Gourmet Portable Tabletop
Best marine grill for tabletop
• Compact and portable.
• Quite inexpensive.
• Okay for the boat but better for a picnic table or the beach.
• Aftermarket rail mounts are sold separately.
• Low BTUs are best suited to meals for two people.
If you want to keep a portable grill on the boat for occasional use, check out the small tabletop grill from Cuisinart. It is best suited to tabletop use either on shore or aboard a boat in stable conditions, but it can be fixed to just about any rail with aftermarket mounts.
This grill offers 145 square inches of cooking surface, which is enough for an average-size family meal.
It runs off of a 1-pound propane bottle but will connect to a fuel line with an adapter (sold separately). The grill puts out only 5,500 BTUs, but with the top closed that is plenty of heat for hamburgers, hotdogs, or even a couple of steaks
Dickinson Marine Sea-B-Que
Best marine grill construction
• Solid construction of 20-gauge marine stainless steel.
• Roll away hood with adjustable tension knobs.
• Designed to prevent flameouts in high wind.
• These are expensive grills.
• The legs do not fold away for rail mounting.
The Dickinson Sea-B-Que combines the aerodynamics of a kettle grill with the capacity of a rectangular grill. The square shape maximizes the cooking area, while the octagonal cross-section reduces windage and increases strength.
The hood is balanced for easy opening, and it has a latch to keep everything battened down during passages.
The Small version provides 148 square inches of cooking area, and the Large offers 220 square inches. Both come with an integrated thermometer.
This is a rugged grill made of 20-gauge 304 stainless steel. Either grill will serve you well, but pound for pound, the small version throws off more BTUs (10,000 BTU burner). The large provides only another 1,000 BTUs (11,000 BTU burner).
Dickinson offers a variety of boat mounts, but they are sold separately.
Magma Catalina II Infrared
Best marine grill with infrared burners
• Constructed of high-heat and corrosion-resistant stainless steel.
• Electric ignition with a built-in thermometer.
• Front viewing window.
• A premium grill at a premium price.
• This is a heavy grill (26.75 pounds).
Magma’s Catalina II delivers the ultimate in grilling capacity and technology. At 315 square inches of cooking area with 12,500 BTUs, you won’t run out of room or heat for serving sundowner guests or large crews.
The grill converts either propane or natural gas to infrared heat, evenly distributed across the grilling surface. This means reduced flare-ups and more even cooking than traditional gas-flame burners.
The Catalina II is a double-walled grill made of marine-grade stainless steel that offers more corrosion resistance under high temperatures than 304 stainless.
Although this is a large grill, it is compatible with any of the Magma mounts (sold separately).
Magma also sells similar infrared grills with smaller or larger capacity. The Newport II is 164 square inches, and the Monterey II is a whopping 420 square inches!
Kuuma 216 Elite Gas Grill
Best marine grill for larger boats
• Comes with electric ignition and thermometer.
• Large capacity cooking surface.
• Folding legs and locking hood for transport.
• Relatively affordable for its size.
• Not as portable as smaller grills.
• 304 stainless is not as resistant to saltwater corrosion as 316 stainless.
Big boats can handle big appliances, and that makes the Kuuma Elite 216 suitable for vessels above, say, 36 feet or so. The Elite will mount to a pushpit rail, stanchion, pedestal, or even a rod holder.
At 13,000 BTUs and 216 square inches, the Elite has plenty of power for any type of entertaining or meal prep. There is even a 316 square-inch model available for the largest vessels.
The Elite features foldable legs and quick-release mounting hardware like the Stow N’ Go. The locking hood makes it portable, and it weighs only 21 pounds.
Unlike many of the other models mentioned here, the Elite also features a warming rack, which means increased capacity and utility.
Didn’t find what you’re looking for? Head to Amazon’s dedicated sailing page for more marine products.