How to Cook on a Boat — Techniques & Tips

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2010 • all rights reserved

Wondering how to cook on a boat? Questions about what works in a galley? Lots of tested tips and techniques that make it easier!

While it’s possible to argue that cooking is cooking, there are some techniques and tips that make cooking in a boat galley easier.  A good starting point is Boat Cooking Is Different.

If you don’t have a conventional oven, be sure to check out Stovetop Baking — yes, you really can bake almost anything on the stovetop with the Omnia Stovetop Oven.

GeneralBaking & Bread MakingMeatsSeafoodDairy & EggsProduceSpicesOther

If there are some other topics that you’d like information on, leave a note in the comments below and I’ll see what I can do!

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  1. I love your soaked bread recipe but I can never get my loaf to look like yours. it doesn’t fill the loaf pan near as much as your pre-2nd-rise picture, although it rises beautifully in the 1st rise. I really wish you had a video on kneading for beginners…all other videos I find are so fast and I can hardly keep up. I just want to know what I’m doing wrong. I’ve read whole wheat flour takes a lot longer and boy my wrists are sore from kneading. I’m about to give up and get a mixer 🙁 i’ve made this recipe 20 times, I really am lost on why my dough hates me so much. if it matters… I live in texas, the armpit of america and humidity capital of usa. maybe a vid to show dough consistency, kneading, all the visuals that could make a huge difference in this southern girl’s bread making life. thanks for all you do!

    • Carolyn Shearlock says:

      I’ll see what I can do! If it’s rising well the first time, it’s probably not bad yeast. My guess is that you’re kneading too much flour into it. When I make bread next week (I’m still on the road from the boat show), I’ll take pictures and put together a how-to.

      In the meantime, be sure to read 5 Tips for Baking Bread on a Boat — Tip #5 talks about how to knead bread and the importance of not kneading too much flour in.


  2. Sarah Schroeder says:

    Many of the foods require lemon or lime, do you use one of the plastic squeezies when fresh is not available ?
    Thanks, Sarah

    • Carolyn Shearlock says:

      Hi Sarah!

      I’m not picky — I use whatever I can find! Sometimes it’s fresh, sometimes one of those plastic “limes” or “lemons,” sometimes it’s bottled. That sounds bad, but I’ve learned that when cruising, you often just have to make do with whatever you have. And I often substitute one for the other. Depending on the recipe, white vinegar can sometimes even be substituted. The result may not be “perfect,” but it’ll probably still be pretty good (and the view from the table can’t be beat)!


      • Susan Parker says:

        I use True Lemon or True Lime in drinks and recipes. It stores well and tastes “true.” For recipes, I add water to make the equivalent amount required.

  3. I just baked some soda bread on the stovetop using your method. I don’t live on a boat, but in a 25 ft. camper. It came out GREAT! It did heat us up though. I’m looking into a solar cooker. Thanks for the post

  4. I am in the need of making new curtains for my 50′ boat. What’s up is not anything I can take a pattern off. You had posted something awhile back on making boat curtains. Any additional help/info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!

  5. I received a Christmas wish for a stainless steel pressure cooker that us taller & skinnier than regular PC’s. Any ideas? Thanks!

    • Boy, they all seem to have pretty much the same profile. The one that seems — from published measurements, I don’t have it — to be somewhat skinnier is the Kuhn Rikon 5 quart Duromatic (link is to see it on Amazon). However, it’s also a 5 quart pressure cooker, whereas most “family sized” ones are 6 quarts. The pot is 8-5/8″ inside diameter (about 9″ exterior, not including the handle) and 6″ high without the lid (one person says it’s about 8-1/2″ with the lid).

      I know that Kuhn Rikon has a reputation for “skinny” pots in general (European stoves tend to be smaller with burners closer together, and Kuhn Rikon is a Swiss company. So I think it might work for you, but don’t want to guarantee it!

      BTW, Kuhn Rikon are pricey but extremely high quality.

  6. Carolyn, Thank you so much. Really appreciate your quick response. Happy Holidays!

  7. Jill Brown says:

    I need some recipes for cooking on a boat with no oven!

  8. Wow…I gotta be honest, I haven’t bought your book yet because I didn’t think I needed another sailboat cookbook. After visiting your website it appears I was wrong!

  9. we are taking our pontoon boat down the Mississippi river to the ky.lakes area.
    we have a 25 ft pontoon with a cabin on it. we have no built in stove , what do recommend cooking with? we would like to be able to cook inside in case of bad weather
    thank you for your help.

    • That’s an ambitious trip in a pontoon boat! I’d get a Coleman camp stove — white gas is my personal favorite but the propane ones work well too. Be sure to open a window or door a bit on the cabin when using the stove.

      See it on Amazon: (white gas) (propane)

      NOTE: The white gas stoves cost more, but the fuel is much cheaper; the propane stoves cost less but the propane cannisters are far more expensive.

  10. Can you use cast iron pan’s on a boat, or are they too heavy.

    • Many people do. Two things: you have to use them all the time, or they will rust. And you have to stow them VERY securely so they don’t become flying missiles. I prefer stainless nesting pans myself, but it’s personal preference.

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