How to Deploy Apollo GraphQL API on Vercel Serverless Functions

Written by Bahaa Zidan

Apollo’s documentation doesn’t mention Vercel anywhere. Every single tutorial that claims to show you how to deploy an apollo graphql server on Vercel is either outdated or incomplete. Here’s how I managed to do it:

Create a git repo and connect it to your Vercel project

The most frictionless way of deploying your serverless function on Vercel is going to be through connecting a git repo to a Vercel project. That way whenever you push a commit to your main branch, a new deployment will be triggered. I won’t go through the details of how to do that. But moving forward I’ll assume that you have a Vercel project that is connected a git repo that you cloned in your local machine.

Init node project and install dependencies

Vercel supports many versions of the NodeJS runtime. I’ll be using version 16 here. But you can still move forward if you’re using version 14+.

In the root directory of your project run:

npm init -y

Then install the required dependencies:

npm install apollo-server-micro apollo-server-core graphql micro micro-cors

I’ll be using TypeScript. So I need to install some types:

npm install -D typescript @types/micro @types/micro-cors

If you want to be able to run the project locally, you can use Vercel CLI:

npm install -D vercel

Creating the API

In the root of your project, create a new directory called api. This is significant. The directory must be named api as Vercel will look for that folder when it’s trying to deploy your functions.

Inside the new api folder create a file called graphql.ts. Both JavaScript and TypeScript are supported by default. So you won’t have to include any build steps. Vercel will do that for you.

Inside graphql.ts paste the following code:

import { ApolloServer } from "apollo-server-micro";
import { send } from "micro";
import Cors from "micro-cors";
import { typeDefs, resolvers } from "../schema";

const cors = Cors();

const apolloServer = new ApolloServer({

Before we try to run it, let’s unpack this a little bit. You’ll notice that we’re using apollo-server-micro instead of the typical apollo-server package. micro is a very tiny package created by Vercel. It is designed and oriented for single purpose modules (function) in contrast to something like express.js which is designed for classical always-running web servers. The typical apollo-server package uses express.js under the hood. So it won’t work in a serverless environment.

Now onto our default export. Any file inside the api directory must have a function as a default export. That function is an async function that takes a request and response objects as parameters and it’s responsible for handling our response. As we’re going to be using ApolloServer to handle the request and response. We don’t need to worry about the particularities of this handler function.

export default apolloServer.start().then(() => {
  const handler = apolloServer.createHandler({ path: "/api/graphql" });

  return cors((req, res) => {
    return req.method === "OPTIONS" ? send(res, 200, "ok") : handler(req, res);

All we need is to create an instance of ApolloServer from apollo-server-micro, start the server, and then create a handler. Pay attention to the path option in the createHandler method. The path needs to match the actual path of your serverless function. In our case it’s /api/graphql. After creating the handler we’ll return our handler function wrapped with cors. micro doesn’t ship with a built-in cors module. So we have to use micro-cors for that. Lastly, we’re checking for the method type and returning a constant 200 ok if it’s OPTIONS to handle preflight requests otherwise, we let our apollo server handle the request like normal.

That's all folks!

That’s it

If you want to run your API locally just run:

npx vercel dev

The Vercel CLI will run it locally with HMR and everything. By default, you’ll find your API on http://localhost:3000/api/graphql

And to deploy the API all you need to do is push these changes to the main branch of your repo. That will work if you’ve already created a Vercel project and connected your git repo to it.

Thank you for reading!