• Skopo, otherwise known as “Smiley” is a classic South African delicacy. The meal consisting of a sheep head gained notoriety amongst Zulu taxi drivers and is now found at every taxi rank or township corner throughout South Africa.

    Over generations, it has become a street food enjoyed by mostly commuters at taxi ranks and bus ranks because of its affordability and filling nature. Now it has grown in popularity being included in most high-end nightclub scenes and cuisine spots around the township and middle-class communities.

    Getting fall-off-the-bone tender Skopo with rich, meaty flavour takes careful preparation. In this handy tutorial, we bring you the ultimate guide to mastering a sheep head recipe that will baffle your guests.


    Over the years as street vendors started competing for customers by updating their recipes, preferred cooking methods for Skopo have evolved. One thing that remains constant is the need to remove the fur, and clean and halve the head. If the labour seems like a bit of work you can probably get a clean lamb head from your local butchery or grocery store.

    Traditional Cooking Method:

    The most common traditional way of cooking Skopo is boiling the sheep head in a big pot for an hour with salt as the only ingredient until the meat is juicy and tender. This way is preferred for the street vendors because it allows the patrons to spice the meat how they like before eating it which means they can cater for a larger group.


    • Sheep head
    • 2 onions
    • 2 chilli beef cubes
    • Boiling water
    • Brown onion soup
    • Olive Oil
    • Barbecue spice
    • Steak & Chops spice



    If you want to go the traditional route, we suggest you use 2 chilli beef stock cubes so that the Skopo has a flavour-filled base to marinate in.


    Chop the onions into smaller pieces


    Place stove on medium heat


    Add boiling water to large pot


    Add the Skopo to the large pot of boiling water


    Add the chopped onion pieces


    Boil for 30 minutes before adding the chilli beef stock


    Boil for another hour or so and add brown onion soup to create a sauce for your skopo


    (Always have a kettle of boiling water ready incase your pot gets dry)


    Continue cooking the meal while stirring for an hour and a half or 2 hours (Depends on how soft your want the meat to be)


    Once satisfied with the texture of your meat you can switch off the stove and let it simmer


    One can then either decide to eat as is with pap but because it’s festive and every meal is a statement, we going gourmet and making further changes.


    Remove your Skopo from the chilli beef broth and place in an oven pan.


    Add your favourite spices but we suggest barbecue spice and steak and chops.


    Add a little olive oil and place in the oven for 15 minutes.


    When the Skopo is golden brown and the smell can’t be ignored, then you know it’s ready.

    ALSO SEE: Food traditions from around the world

    Food traditions from around the world

    Article originally written and published by Olerato Ramafsi for Getaway

    Feature Image: Pixabay