Generally there are 2 ways to deploy Jekyll static site to Heroku.

  1. Deploy as rails app using web server gem such as thin.
  2. Deploy as Docker image running nginx service.

In this post, I chose 2nd approach since I like to use Docker image.

Prepare Dockerfile

We will serve this Jekyll site via nginx service. In order to map Heroku port number to our nginx service, we will need to use below default.conf template.

server {
  # Placeholder for Heroku port
  listen  $PORT;

  location / {
    root  /usr/share/nginx/html;
    index index.html;


FROM nginx:alpine

# copy nginx `default.conf`
COPY nginx/default.conf /etc/nginx/conf.d/
# copy Jekyll generated files
COPY _site /usr/share/nginx/html/

# replace $PORT placeholder with HEROKU given port in default.conf and run nginx service
CMD sed -i -e 's/$PORT/'"$PORT"'/g' /etc/nginx/conf.d/default.conf && nginx -g 'daemon off;'

You can named this file as Dockerfile or have a suffix to indiciate the Heroku process. For instance, if you want to run this application as web process in Heroku, you could name it as Dockerfile.web. This works well if you have multiple Dockerfiles with different process such as web, worker, or clock. Later on, when you run heroku container:push --recursive, it will build all the Dockerfiles with the correct suffix and push them to Heroku docker registry.

Configure Github Action

Even without Github Action, all I need is Heroku CLI to deploy this Docker image using below commands.

> bundle exec jekyll build

> heroku container:login

> heroku container:push -a <HEROKU_APP_NAME> --resursive

> heroku container:release -a <HEROKU_APP_NAME> web

Basically, in Github Actions, we are running above commands. Below is the full Github Action workflow yaml.

name: Push Container to Heroku

      - master

    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    - uses: actions/checkout@v1

    - name: Retrieve Gem Bundles Cache
      uses: actions/cache@v2
        path: _bundle
        key: ${{ runner.os }}-gems-${{ hashFiles('**/Gemfile.lock') }}
        restore-keys: |
          ${{ runner.os }}-gems-

    - name: Generate site
      run: |
        mkdir -p _bundle/cache
        chmod a+rwx -R .
        docker-compose run -e JEKYLL_ENV=production jekyll bundle install
        docker-compose run -e JEKYLL_ENV=production jekyll bundle exec jekyll build --trace

    - name: Login to Heroku Container registry
        # run `heroku authorizations:create` to generate the HEROKU_API_KEY
        HEROKU_API_KEY: ${{ secrets.HEROKU_API_KEY }}
      run: heroku container:login

    - name: Build and push
        HEROKU_API_KEY: ${{ secrets.HEROKU_API_KEY }}
      run: heroku container:push -a ${{ secrets.HEROKU_APP_NAME }} --recursive

    - name: Release
        HEROKU_API_KEY: ${{ secrets.HEROKU_API_KEY }}
      run: heroku container:release -a ${{ secrets.HEROKU_APP_NAME }} web

With a push to master branch, it will trigger a build which will

  1. Checkout code from master branch.
  2. Generate Jekyll static files.
  3. Build and push the Docker image to heroku registry.
  4. Deploy the Docker image to Heroku with web process.


This approach not only work for static site, but also for other types of application such as Rails application. Having a Dockerfile will give you full control on what other linux packages you wish to install within the application server instance such as ImageMagick. It will also give you consistent environment between running your application on your local machine and on Heroku.