Smalahove (Sheeps Head) with Rutabaga & Potatoes Recipe | Norway

Smalahove (Sheeps Head) with Rutabaga & Potatoes Recipe | Norway

Smalahove is an interesting traditional Norwegian recipe of sheeps head usually eaten on the Sunday before Christmas.

Of course, it might be difficult to get your hands on a sheeps head if you’re not in Norway but you can speak to your local butcher to see if it is something they might provide for you to be able to cook Smalahove for yourself.

There are different sides that can be served with Smalahove but most common is mashed potatoes and rutabaga, or akvavit. For this recipe we will be using potatoes and rutabaga, but feel free to try alternative sides if you like.

Top tip: the most delicious bits are usually the cheek and the tongue!

A serving is usually half a sheeps head per person and 2 ladles of mashed rutabaga/potatoes.

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  • Water – 5L
  • Salt – 1kg
  • Sugar – 1 cup
  • Saltpetre – 3 tsp
  • Rutabagas – 1kg
  • Potatoes – 4
  • Butter – 100g
  • Sugar – 1tsp
  • Nutmeg – 2tsp
  • White pepper – 2tsp
  • Mutton stock – 1 cup
  • Cream – 2 tbsp
  • 1 kg (2 ¼ pounds) rutabagas


  1. Take a large, sharp knife and cut the sheeps head in half lengthwise.
  2. Fill a large cooking pot with cold water and place the head in pot, leave for 24 hours.
  3. After 24 hours combine 4L of water with 1kg of salt, 1 cup of sugar and 3 tsp of saltpetre in order to make a brine.
  4. Dry the sheeps head well and then place in to the brine mixture to sit for a further 24 hours.
  5. Leave to dry on a rack before placing it in a fresh pan of boiling water. Cover and cook for 1 hour.
  6. Whilst the sheeps head is cooking, peel and chop the potatoes and rutabaga and boil together in a pot of water for 30 minutes.
  7. Drain the potatoes and rutabaga, nutmeg, white pepper, mutton stock, butter and cream, and mash to a creamy consistency. Salt to taste.
  8. Take the sheeps head out of the pan and serve immediately with the mashed potatoes and rutabaga.
  9. Enjoy!

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Traditional Norwegian Smalahove recipe (sheeps head) with rutabaga and potatoes
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