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Cooking in a sailboat galley is different than a spacious kitchen with land life conveniences.
Making meals aboard is challenging enough in the small space. Now add in managing heat and steam while being conscious of water and propane usage. You have a challenge on your hands.
The hurdles of cooking aboard and limited space mean we have to be selective about sailing galley equipment.
For this list, I used the criteria below:
- Does it conserve resources (power, water, or propane)?
- Is it high-quality and built durably for a boat environment?
- Is it easy to use and clean?
- Does it store easily?
- Does it have more than one purpose?
These questions helped determine which items made our galley equipment list.
Best Galley Cookware / Bakeware
Magma Stainless Steel Cookware
Great cookware is a staple of any great kitchen, no matter where you live.
Luckily, Magma builds high-quality cookware with small space dwellers in mind.
The Magma set distributes heat evenly and has all the trademarks of quality cookware, with the nesting bonus for your small boat galley.
Why Magma Pots are Essential
- They are 18/8 grade stainless steel with triple clad bottoms for an even heat distribution
- The pots are oven safe to 500 degrees for use on the stove or oven
- They hold heat well – they’ll conserve propane and keep food hot long after you’ve turned off the burner
- They are efficient with space – the set is about 7-inches high and approximately 14-inches at the widest point of the handles
7-Piece vs. 10-Piece Set
7-Piece Pot Set
10-Piece Pot Set
As an owner of the 7-piece, I would highly recommend the 10-piece set. In addition to the Magma set, we have 3-quart and 1-quart pots that are workhorses in the galley. Thank goodness you can buy individual pieces! I’ll be adding these when my cheaper versions need replacing.
It’s essential to have something around 1-quart for heating leftovers, a can of soup, or a single cup of oatmeal. If you opt for the 7-piece set, be sure to pick up a small saucepan.
Read more about why these pots are sailboat galley essential and make the Best Nesting Pots for Small Spaces.
BONUS: The Magma cookware is also induction compatible. So if you decide you want to ditch the propane for induction, you won’t need a new cookware set.
Runner Up: Silicone Mats
Silicone baking mats are a big kitchen staple on a boat. They are flexible, distribute heat evenly, and are incredibly non-stick.
The Silpats silicone mats come in a variety of sizes. I have the Petite Jelly Roll (8 1/4″ x 11 3/4), which is perfect for our oven on the boat. But they also come in a toaster oven size that’s even smaller.
Why Silicone Mats are Essential
- They save on oil and eliminate parchment paper
- They are easy to wash
- Storage is a breeze; they roll up to squeeze in tight spots in a sailboat kitchen
- They are great for baking and any scenario where you would use parchment paper
I have used the Silpat brand for more than 15 years and can attest to their quality. They’ll last forever if you treat them well—no knives or cutting on the mat and no harsh dish soap.
Use these mats to roast vegetables, bake pizza evenly, make granola, or bake cookies. They also work for rolling dough and making chocolate bark.
Check out Silpat silicone mats and size options here.
Best Galley Drinkware
Stainless Steel Wine Glasses
Our stainless steel wine glass set was a thoughtful gift from friends when we left Colorado to start cruising.
These glasses have been my go-to for happy hour on the boat and during our RV days sitting by the fire.
They’re so versatile – great for Chardonnay, rum liqueur, or boxed red wine with a couple of ice cubes (no judgment, please).
Why These Wine Glasses are Essential
- They are 304-grade stainless steel and absolutely won’t break
- They keep wine and other iced drinks cold and are freezer safe
- They’re super easy to clean
- They don’t get as many fingerprints and hard water spots as our GCI wine glasses that are made from a Copolyester material.
Get ready for sundowners with your set of these stainless steel wine glasses.
BONUS: You’ll fill a whole lot fancier drinking your run and coke without any added hassle.
Runner Up: Yeti Tumblers
A good everyday glass is essential on a boat. You don’t have room for a cabinet full of drinkware, so what you have needs to work.
The Yeti insulated tumbler is a versatile piece of drinkware. It works for iced tea, hot tea, rum and coke, and coffee.
Why an Insulated Tumbler is Essential
- As with the wine glasses, stainless steel is easy to clean – we use a small amount of diluted bleach to clean the tea stains every month or so
- They have double-wall vacuum insulation, so if it’s cold, it stays cold, hot stays hot
- They are very durable at 18/8 stainless steel
Yeti is known for being a high-quality brand. Still, any well-made insulated tumbler is going to be a versatile cup amongst your sailing kitchenware.
View Yeti’s insulated 20 oz. tumbler which is available in a variety of colors.
PRO TIP: You can clean coffee and tea stains on the steel and lid by soaking in water with a little bleach.
Best Galley Storage Solutions
Quality Storage Containers
I discovered the OXO Smart Seal storage containers when we moved into the RV. Finally, after buying one-offs every time I would see a Bed, Bath & Beyond, I broke down and bought a full set.
Why These Containers are Essential
- They look and feel high quality
- The removal silicone lining on the lid makes them very easy to clean
- They are microwave and freezer safe, helping to eliminate freezer bags (the 4.6 cup size is perfect for freezing broth)
- They stack and nest without issue
These have a locking tab on each side and are leak and spill-proof. This is key, so you are 100% sure the lids are locked.
They come in plastic or glass. We have the plastic, and since we hand wash, they are holding up well.
You can view the OXO Smart Seal containers here.
BONUS: They come in a 5.7-ounce version that is perfect for little bits of herbs, chopped veggies, freezing pesto and pizza sauce, and more.
Runner Up: Basket with Handles
These are the solution for all the lost food in the back of the shelf. Whether in the fridge or cabinet, you want these baskets.
You can easily pull them out to get what you need while staying organized and maximizing space.
Why These Baskets are Essential
- They make use of hard to reach space in the galley cabinets or fridge
- Although not pricey, they are durable – we have consistently used ours for two years with no cracks
- They clean up quickly, even when we have big spills in the fridge
We found ours at Walmart, but I’ve seen them on the Container Store and Amazon. Be sure to measure your space before committing to a size.
Best Galley Zero Waste Product
Reusable “Unpaper” Towels
One of the first things I tackled when we moved aboard was how to be more sustainable. I was previously a die-hard user of paper towels.
I immediately discovered that sourcing and storing such giant disposable products was zero fun on a boat.
Why Unpaper Towels Are Essential
- They reduce trash and increase storage space occupied by rolls of paper towels
- They are easy to wash and do even better if you initially rinse stains with a little dish soap
- If you don’t use cloth napkins, these can double as casual dinner napkins
I sourced our reusable paper towels in Brunswick, Georgia, at a locally owned store, Dot & Army. Check out their unpaper towels here. They carry lots of other eco-friendly options as well.
BONUS: I love that these are trimmed in a rainbow of colors that add a little fun to the galley.
Runner Up: Beeswax Wraps
These have been all the rage as an eco-friendly item for the kitchen and with good cause. I was a bit spectacle when I bought the Beeswax Wraps but quickly jumped on the bandwagon.
With a small fridge, a big concern is how much space a container occupies. The beeswax wraps adhere nicely to the shape of any fruit, veggie, or cheese, while efficiently using the room in the fridge.
Why Beeswax Wraps are Essential
- They maximize space and minimize trash since you can reduce plastic bags
- They clean easily (a little cold water and minimal dish soap if needed)
- They fold up for easy storage when not in use (I keep them in a jar in the cabinet)
You can get the Beeswax Wraps here.
If you are currently planning your move aboard, start your sustainable journey now. The sooner you can learn what works for you and your crew, the better.
Check out our full Zero Waste Swaps list for more sustainable products in a small space.
Best Galley Gadget
Hand-Powered Food Chopper
In the growing list of boat galley accessories, the Chef’n VeggiChop is at the top. It checks all the boxes for cooking equipment in the cruising lifestyle.
Why the VeggiChop is Essential
- It’s easy to clean, especially compared to blenders and food processors
- The convenience of a food processor with no sacrifice to power
- It’s durable – I have been using it consistently for over a decade
- You can also use it to chop nuts or make guacamole, salsa, and even pesto
How to Use the Chopper
- Roughly chop your onion, celery, carrot, or bell pepper
- Plop it in the container with the blades inserted
- Put the lid on and pull the ring like you are cranking the dinghy! (Ok, not quite that hard.)
Pull more times for finely chopped veggies. Presto, chopped in no time, and it’s completely man-powered.
Just recently, we took apart the top to oil the inner workings. There is minor fraying on the cord after ten years, but it is working great after oiling.
Check out the Chef’n VeggiChop here.
BONUS: If you are sensitive to onions, this is a lifesaver. Seal your onion while chopping, and keep those tears at bay!
Runner Up: Immersion Blender
A stick blender is excellent for soups, chili, hummus, and blending ice for smoothies or shakes. Most importantly, it does the work of a blender while fitting in a small boat galley.
This KitchenAid model breaks down into two 9-inch pieces for easy storage.
Why an Immersion Blender is Essential
- It’s effortless to clean compared to a full-size blender
- It does take power (about 200 watts), but most things you are blending will only require 20-30 seconds
- It is relatively small for a kitchen gadget (especially compared to regular blenders, Ninjas, etc.), which will allow you to store it conveniently for quick use
I have an older version of the KitchenAid immersion blender, which has 9-speeds. They are now between 2 and 5 speeds, which should be plenty. Some are cordless with a 12V lithium battery, which I am curious to hear more about. If anyone has used the cordless version, please let me know your thoughts in the comments!
You can browse KitchenAid immersion blenders here.
Best Galley Small Appliance
Like many boats out there, our oven is older and tends to put out as much heat as it retains. Anything that takes more than 20 minutes to cook can really heat up the galley.
The thermal cooker reduced heat dramatically compared with the oven. It cooks with an insulated container by locking in heat once your food has come to a boil. It’s a good alternative to the stove when simmering beans or broth for hours.
With a thermal cooker, you are trading cooking time for the convenience of less heat. In the heat of the summer months, that’s a fair trade.
Some thermal cookers have a second inner pot allowing you to cook two things at once. Make potatoes in the bottom and a casserole on top.
Things to Put in a Thermal Cooker
How to Use a Thermal Cooker
- Sauté any veggies and bring your food (beans, soup, broth, etc.) to a boil in the large inner pot. If cooking a casserole, boil water only in the large pot.
- Boil for 5-10 minutes.
- Remove from the stove and insert the large pot into the insulated container. If cooking a casserole, prepare it in the small pot and place it over the large pot of boiling water in the insulated container.
- Lock the lid and wait. Generally, the thermal cooker time is relative to a slow cooker.
NOTE: Don’t forget to use the boiled water for washing dishes.
Why a Thermal Cooker is Essential
- It saves on propane and keeps the heat out of the boat
- It serves as a cooking and baking appliance
- Inner pots are stainless steel and clean up as quickly as any regular pot
BONUS: Experimenting is fun! We tried making banana bread in the second inner pot, which turned out delicious and gooey. It was moist due to being cooked with water instead of the dry heat of the oven. But if you are open to trying different textures, you won’t be disappointed in the taste.
Runner Up: Ice Maker
I’m ashamed to say I was against an ice maker when we became liveaboards. It didn’t seem like a smart trade-off for space. Obviously, I had not been cruising during the summer in the southeast.
If you have the space and the power, an ice maker is a huge morale booster for hot afternoons and happy hours.
We opted for the Frigidaire, which has worked well with heavy use for over a year.
This model makes ice in under 10 minutes, making nine cubes per cycle. The specs show it draws around 200 watts when producing ice and a little more when it’s cooling ice in the basket.
Why an Ice Maker is Essential
For this last essential, I threw out most of the criteria. An ice maker can drain power, is sometimes hard to clean, and has just one purpose. But because having ice has been a daily treat for us, I had to include it on the list.
As we learn more about how to live with less on a boat, I find sometimes you just need something that makes you happy, even if it requires a little more time and energy. For our lifestyle, the ice maker is worth it!
There is now a newer version of this Frigidaire ice make found here.
Deciding on Galley Kitchen Equipment
Defining your galley cooking style, what you like to eat, and how conservative you can be with resources will dictate your boat galley equipment. Everyone will be a little different because we all have our own priorities when it comes to how we cook and what we eat.
I hope this list has been helpful and given you a few ideas for items that will make cooking on a boat a little easier and more enjoyable as a liveaboard.
Want to learn more about cooking on a boat?
Read more on meal ideas, provisioning, and outfitting your boat galley on our guide.
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