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A comprehensive guide to customizing Tailwind CSS in Astro

A comprehensive guide to customizing Tailwind CSS in Astro

  • Written by Yaroslav Lapin on

In this guide, we cover an alternative approach to using the canonical Astro Tailwind CSS integration, offering more control and adaptability. This post is part 1 of a 3-part series.

TL;DR: the easy way

If you landed here from a search engine result while looking for a quick solution, run the following command and follow the subsequent instructions:

npx astro add tailwind


Tailwind CSS in Astro: the right way

However, if you’re interested in understanding how the integration works or are seeking a more efficient method of setting up Tailwind CSS in Astro, let’s dive in.

It’s surprisingly easy to set up Tailwind CSS in Astro without using the @astrojs/tailwind package. First, you need to install tailwindcss:

npm install tailwindcss


yarn add tailwindcss
pnpm install tailwindcss

Next, create a postcss.config.cjs file in your project’s root directory with the following content:

module.exports = {
  plugins: {
    tailwindcss: {},

Then, create a tailwind.config.cjs file in your project root directory with the following content:

/** @type {import('tailwindcss').Config} */
module.exports = {
  content: ['./src/**/*.{astro,html,js,jsx,md,mdx,svelte,ts,tsx,vue}'],

Then, create a Tailwind style file src/styles/tailwind.css with the following content:

@tailwind base;
@tailwind components;
@tailwind utilities;

Now, include the src/styles/tailwind.css file in the pages where you need Tailwind. In most cases, it will be the src/layouts/Layout.astro file:

import '../styles/tailwind.css';

That’s it!

How is this different from npx astro add tailwind?

Let’s imagine that you’ve already set up Tailwind CSS in Astro using the @astrojs/tailwind package. Here’s what npx astro add tailwind command does for you:

  • Installs @astrojs/tailwind, tailwindcss, and autoprefixer packages (for additional info on autoprefixer, see the parting notes section)
  • Generates tailwind.config.cjs file (for Tailwind CSS IntelliSense to work in your editor)
  • @astrojs/tailwind integration is added to the astro.config.mjs file
  • That integration creates a virtual postcss.config.cjs file with tailwindcss and autoprefixer plugins (“virtual” means that the file is not actually created on disk, but Astro is going to use it as if it were)
  • Creates a virtual @astrojs/tailwind/base.css file with content set to @tailwind base; @tailwind components; @tailwind utilities;
  • The line import '@astrojs/tailwind/base.css'; is virtually added to every page in the src/pages directory

Because you have no control over base.css content and you can’t control when it’s imported, some of the customizations of Tailwind CSS are not possible. For example, you can’t exclude Tailwind CSS from a subset of pages.

As a result, you’d now need to create the src/styles/tailwind.css file manually and include it in the pages or layouts where Tailwind is needed. After, you’d have to edit the astro.config.mjs file to stop injecting import '@astrojs/tailwind/base.css'; with the applyBaseStyles: false option.

And now, the only difference between the two approaches is that instead of having a separate postcss.config.cjs file, we activate the Tailwind PostCSS plugin with the following line in the astro.config.mjs file:

import { defineConfig } from "astro/config";
+ import tailwind from "@astrojs/tailwind";

export default defineConfig({
  integrations: [
+   tailwind({ config: { applyBaseStyles: false }}),

However, having a PostCSS config file could be a good thing, because it opens up the possibility of using other PostCSS plugins, such as postcss-nested or postcss-import.

So, to simplify this a bit, you could delete the Tailwind CSS integration from astro.config.mjs completely and then create your own postcss.config.cjs file. At this point, you’d find yourself in the same state as if you followed the steps in the previous section ;-)

Some parting notes

  • autoprefixer: The Tailwind integration also installs autoprefixer. However, since both Tailwind and Astro already add the necessary prefixes, we’ve omitted its installation in this guide. If you still want to install it, run the npm install autoprefixer command and change the postcss.config.cjs file as follows:
module.exports = {
  plugins: {
    tailwindcss: {},
    autoprefixer: {},

(If you do end up doing this, please let me know - I’d love to understand your use case.)

  • If anyone from the Astro team is reading this, perhaps the Tailwind integration should ask users to create a CSS file manually instead of using injectScript. Astro is literally the only framework that skips the manual CSS file creation step in the Tailwind framework guides.



If you found this article useful, we’d appreciate a share!

We’d also deeply appreciate your ⭐ on our open-source starter template repo: https://github.com/fogbender/b2b-saaskit.

Additionally, check out our post on image optimization in Astro.

Finally, check in on this blog in a few days for a post on how to use Tailwind CSS in the Starlight documentation template for Astro (https://starlight.astro.build/).