Jekyll on S3 and CloudFront using s3_website

GitHub Pages is an easy way to host static websites for your projects or personal sites. It even supports using a custom domain. Unfortunately HTTPS is only supported when you are hosting on the default domain. This post documents how to setup Jekyll with S3 and CloudFront using s3_website, giving you an easy solution for hosting a static websites using a custom domain and HTTPS.




  1. Create an S3 bucket to host your website content, for example I’d recommend picking the cheapest regions, like us-east-1.
  2. Allow the bucket’s contents to be publicly accessibly by setting the bucket policy to the following:
         "Sid": "PublicReadForGetBucketObjects",
         "Effect": "Allow",
         "Principal": "*",
         "Action": ["s3:GetObject"],
         "Resource": ["arn:aws:s3:::YOUR-BUCKET-NAME/*"]

SSL Certificate

If you want to use HTTPS to access your website, either request or upload a certificate using the AWS Certificate Manager. This will be used by your CloudFront distribution to provide HTTPS access.

If you request a certificate, create it in the us-east-1 region so it can be used by CloudFront, and be sure include both and * so you can accept requests from both the root domain and sub-domains. Do not continue with setting up CloudFront until you have verified the certificate via email.


Create a new CloudFront Distribution with the following settings:


You will also need to update your domain’s DNS to point to this new CloudFront distribution. The recommended and easiest way is with AWS Route53.

If you are using AWS Route53 you can setup an alias resource record set to point to your CloudFront distribution by following this documentation. If you have enabled IPv6, be sure to create both A and AAAA alias records.

If you are using another DNS provider, you cannot host the website on the zone apex (ie. because you cannot create a CNAME record there. You can only create a CNAME record for subdomains (ie. The CNAME record must point to the CloudFront distribution’s domain name, which will be the in the format, and can be found on the distribution’s details page.


  1. Install the s3_website gem, gem install s3_website.
  2. Create a s3_website.yml configuration based on this example.
  3. Follow steps for using environment variables and move secrets to a .env file. Be sure to add .env to your repo’s .gitignore.
  4. Run s3_website cfg apply to apply the s3_website configuration settings to your S3 bucket and CloudFront distribution.
  5. Generate your Jekyll site by running bundle exec jekyll b.
  6. Push your content to S3 by running s3_website push.
  7. Test your website by browsing to or