I previously wrote about five reasons you should consider AppSync over API Gateway. One thing that API Gateway supports but you can’t do with AppSync out-of-the-box yet is custom domain names.

Your shiny new AppSync API is available at XYZ.appsync-api.us-east-1.amazonaws.com/graphql, but you really want people to use your own domain instead because dev.example.com/graphql is much more memorable and informative.

In this post, let’s look at two ways you can do this.


This is my preferred way. It’s easy to set up and cheap to run.

Assuming your AppSync API resource is called GraphQlApi (if you use the serverless-appsync-plugin with the Serverless framework, then this is the logical id it’ll use). This is the CloudFormation resource you need to configure to route traffic to the AppSync API.

AppSyncDistribution: Type: AWS::CloudFront::Distribution Properties: DistributionConfig: Origins: - Id: AppSync DomainName: Fn::Select: - '2' - Fn::Split: - "/" - Fn::GetAtt: - GraphQlApi - GraphQLUrl CustomOriginConfig: HTTPPort: 80 HTTPSPort: 443 OriginProtocolPolicy: https-only OriginSSLProtocols: - TLSv1 - TLSv1.1 - TLSv1.2 OriginPath: '' Enabled: true HttpVersion: http2 Comment: CloudFront distribution for the Patient AppSync API Aliases: - <INSERT DOMAIN NAME HERE, e.g. dev.example.com> PriceClass: PriceClass_100 DefaultCacheBehavior: AllowedMethods: - HEAD - OPTIONS - GET - DELETE - POST - PUT - PATCH CachedMethods: - HEAD - OPTIONS - GET ForwardedValues: QueryString: true Headers: - x-api-key - Authorization Cookies: Forward: all MinTTL: 0 DefaultTTL: 0 TargetOriginId: AppSync ViewerProtocolPolicy: redirect-to-https Compress: true CustomErrorResponses: [] ViewerCertificate: AcmCertificateArn: <INSERT ARN HERE> SslSupportMethod: sni-only

If you’re using the Serverless framework, then you should also check out the serverless-appsync-cloudfront plugin. It can make things a lot easier for you. However, at the time of writing, it makes assumptions about the logical Id of the AppSync API (it expects GraphQlApi) as it’s intended to used alongside the aforementioned serverless-appsync-plugin.

API Gateway

Another way you can do this is through API Gateway. You can set up an HTTP proxy that routes traffic to the AppSync API, and then configure a custom domain name in API Gateway.

Compared to using CloudFront, this approach takes more work to set up and incurs higher cost and latency (compared to using CloudFront) because every request has to go through API Gateway.

If you’re using the Serverless framework, then another stumbling block is that you can’t easily declare an API Gateway without any Lambda functions. Luckily, you can work around this by bringing SAM’s macro AWS::Serverless-2016–10–31 into the serverless.yml like in this post. This lets you configure API Gateway using SAM’s AWS::Serverless::Api resource type.

ApiGateway: Type: AWS::Serverless::Api Properties: Name: AppSyncApiProxy StageName: dev OpenApiVersion: "3.0.1" DefinitionBody: openapi: "3.0.1" paths: /{proxy+}: "x-amazon-apigateway-any-method": consumes: - "application/json" produces: - "application/json" parameters: - name: proxy in: path required: true type: string x-amazon-apigateway-integration: uri: Fn::Join: - '' - - 'https://' - Fn::Select: - '2' - Fn::Split: - "/" - Fn::GetAtt: - GraphQlApi - GraphQLUrl - '/{proxy}' passthroughBehavior: when_no_match httpMethod: ANY type: http_proxy requestParameters: integration.request.path.proxy : method.request.path.proxy EndpointConfiguration: REGIONAL ApiGatewayDomainName: Type: AWS::ApiGateway::DomainName Properties: DomainName: <INSERT DOMAIN NAME> EndpointConfiguration: Types: - REGIONAL RegionalCertificateArn: <INSERT ARN HERE> ApiGatewayBasePathMapping: Type: AWS::ApiGateway::BasePathMapping DependsOn: - ApiGatewayDomainName Properties: DomainName: <INSERT DOMAIN NAME> RestApiId: !Ref ApiGateway Stage: !Ref ApiGateway.Stage

One thing to note here is that, by default, SAM creates an API Gateway stage called Stage. This appears to be a long-standing bug with SAM and the workaround is to set OpenApiVersion to 3.0.1.


As a final step for both of these approaches, you need to configure a Route53 record for them in your hosted zone.

For CloudFront, you need something like this:

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For API Gateway, you need to capture the API Gateway domain name for the custom domain (in API Gateway) and configure a Route53 record against it.

img 5f580a8ccb333

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You can also configure these using CloudFormation.


With both of these approaches, you can create a custom domain name (such as dev.example.com) for AppSync. Callers can access your AppSync API via dev.example.com/graphql which is much more user-friendly and memorable.

As mentioned above, I prefer the CloudFront approach because it’s easier to configure and has a negligible cost overhead.

If you want to learn GraphQL and AppSync with a hands-on tutorial then please check out my new AppSync course where you will build a Twitter clone using a combination of AppSync, Lambda, DynamoDB, Cognito and Vue.js. You will learn about different GraphQL modelling techniques, how to debug resolvers, CI/CD, monitoring and alerting and much more.

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Liked this article? Support me on Patreon and get direct help from me via a private Slack channel or 1-2-1 mentoring.

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Hi, my name is Yan Cui. I’m an AWS Serverless Hero and the author of Production-Ready Serverless. I specialise in rapidly transitioning teams to serverless and building production-ready services on AWS.

Are you struggling with serverless or need guidance on best practices? Do you want someone to review your architecture and help you avoid costly mistakes down the line? Whatever the case, I’m here to help.

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