In this example we’ll look at how to create an Apollo GraphQL API on AWS using SST.


Create an SST app

Change indicator Let’s start by creating an SST app.

$ npx create-sst@latest --template=base/example graphql-apollo
$ cd graphql-apollo
$ npm install

By default, our app will be deployed to the us-east-1 AWS region. This can be changed in the sst.config.ts in your project root.

import { SSTConfig } from "sst";

export default {
  config(_input) {
    return {
      name: "graphql-apollo",
      region: "us-east-1",
} satisfies SSTConfig;

Project layout

An SST app is made up of two parts.

  1. stacks/ — App Infrastructure

    The code that describes the infrastructure of your serverless app is placed in the stacks/ directory of your project. SST uses AWS CDK, to create the infrastructure.

  2. packages/functions/ — App Code

    The code that’s run when your API is invoked is placed in the packages/functions/ directory of your project.

Setting up our infrastructure

Let’s start by setting up our GraphQL API.

Change indicator Replace the stacks/ExampleStack.ts with the following.

import { GraphQLApi, StackContext } from "sst/constructs";

export function ExampleStack({ stack }: StackContext) {
  // Create the GraphQL API
  const api = new GraphQLApi(stack, "ApolloApi", {
    server: {
      handler: "packages/functions/src/lambda.handler",
      bundle: {
        format: "cjs",

  // Show the API endpoint in output
    ApiEndpoint: api.url,

We are creating an Apollo GraphQL API here using the GraphQLApi construct. Our Apollo Server is powered by the Lambda function in packages/functions/src/lambda.ts.

Adding function code

For this example, we are not using a database. We’ll look at that in detail in another example. So we’ll just be printing out a simple string.

Change indicator Let’s add a file that contains our notes in packages/functions/src/lambda.ts.

import { gql, ApolloServer } from "apollo-server-lambda";

const typeDefs = gql`
  type Query {
    hello: String

const resolvers = {
  Query: {
    hello: () => "Hello, World!",

const server = new ApolloServer({
  introspection: !!process.env.IS_LOCAL,

export const handler = server.createHandler();

Here we are creating an Apollo Server. We are also enabling introspection if we are running our Lambda function locally. SST sets the process.env.IS_LOCAL when run locally.

Change indicator Let’s install apollo-server-lambda in the packages/functions/ folder.

$ npm install apollo-server-lambda

We also need to quickly update our tsconfig.json to work with the Apollo Server package.

Change indicator Add the following to the compilerOptions block in the tsconfig.json.

"esModuleInterop": true

Now let’s test our new Apollo GraphQL API.

Starting your dev environment

Change indicator SST features a Live Lambda Development environment that allows you to work on your serverless apps live.

$ npm run dev

The first time you run this command it’ll take a couple of minutes to deploy your app and a debug stack to power the Live Lambda Development environment.

 Deploying app

Preparing your SST app
Transpiling source
Linting source
Deploying stacks
dev-graphql-apollo-ExampleStack: deploying...

 ✅  dev-graphql-apollo-ExampleStack

Stack dev-graphql-apollo-ExampleStack
  Status: deployed

The ApiEndpoint is the API we just created.

Let’s test our endpoint with the SST Console. The SST Console is a web based dashboard to manage your SST apps. Learn more about it in our docs.

Go to the GraphQL tab and you should see the GraphQL Playground in action.

Note, The GraphQL explorer lets you query GraphQL endpoints created with the GraphQLApi and AppSyncApi constructs in your app.

Now let’s run our query. Paste the following on the left and hit the run button.

query {

Apollo GraphQL Playground Hello World You should see Hello, World!.

Making changes

Let’s make a quick change to our API.

Change indicator In packages/functions/src/lambda.ts replace Hello, World! with Hello, New World!.

const resolvers = {
  Query: {
    hello: () => "Hello, New World!",

If you head back to the GraphQL playground in SST console and run the query again, you should see the change!

Apollo GraphQL Playground Hello New World

Deploying your API

Now that our API is tested, let’s deploy it to production. You’ll recall that we were using a dev environment, the one specified in our sst.config.ts. However, we are going to deploy it to a different environment. This ensures that the next time we are developing locally, it doesn’t break the API for our users.

Change indicator Run the following in your terminal.

$ npx sst deploy --stage prod

Cleaning up

Finally, you can remove the resources created in this example using the following commands.

$ npx sst remove
$ npx sst remove --stage prod


And that’s it! You’ve got a brand new serverless Apollo GraphQL API. A local development environment, to test and make changes. And it’s deployed to production as well, so you can share it with your users. Check out the repo below for the code we used in this example. And leave a comment if you have any questions!