Gatsby has built-in support for loading environment variables into the browser and Functions. Loading environment variables into Node.js requires a small code snippet.

In development, Gatsby will load environment variables from a file named .env.development. For builds, it will load from .env.production.

A .env file could look like:

To load these into Node.js, add the following code snippet to the top of your gatsby-config.js file:

This loads process.env.GATSBY_API_URL and process.env.API_KEY for use in gatsby-*.js files and functions.

For example, when configuring a plugin in gatsby-config.js:

Accessing Environment Variables in the browser.

By default, environment variables are only available in Node.js code and are not available in the browser as some variables should be kept secret and not exposed to anyone visiting the site.

To expose a variable in the browser, you must preface its name with GATSBY_. So GATSBY_API_URL will be available in browser code but API_KEY will not.

Variables are set when JavaScript is compiled so when the development server is started or you build your site.

Add .env* files to .gitignore

Environment variable files should not be committed to Git as they often contain secrets which are not safe to add to Git. Instead, add .env.* to your .gitignore file and setup the environment variables manually on Gatsby Cloud and locally.

Environment variables on Gatsby Cloud

In Gatsby Cloud you can configure environment variables in each site’s “Site Settings”.

Additional Environments (Staging, Test, etc.)

You can create additional environments beyond development and production through customizing dotenv’s path configuration. E.g. to add a staging environment you could run the Gatsby build command like:

STAGING=true gatsby build

and then in your gatsby-config.js file:

Reserved Environment Variables:

You can not override certain environment variables that are used internally:


Gatsby also allows you to specify another environment variable when running the local development server (e.g. npm run develop):


This allows you to refresh your sourced content. See Refreshing Content.

Gatsby detects an optimal level of CPU cores to use during gatsby build based on the OS reported number of physical CPUs. For builds that are run in virtual environments, you may need to adjust the number of worker parallelism with the GATSBY_CPU_COUNT environment variable. See Multi-core builds.