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Cluster upgrades

An eksctl-managed cluster can be upgraded in 3 easy steps:

  1. upgrade control plane version with eksctl upgrade cluster
  2. replace each of the nodegroups by creating a new one and deleting the old one
  3. update default add-ons (more about this here):
    • kube-proxy
    • aws-node
    • coredns

Please make sure to read this section in full before you proceed.


Kubernetes supports version drift of up-to two minor versions during upgrade process. So nodes can be up to two minor versions ahead or behind the control plane version. You can only upgrade the control plane one minor version at a time, but nodes can be upgraded more than one minor version at a time, provided the nodes stay within two minor versions of the control plane.


The old eksctl update cluster will be deprecated. Use eksctl upgrade cluster instead.

Updating control plane version

Control plane version upgrades must be done for one minor version at a time.

To upgrade control plane to the next available version run:

eksctl upgrade cluster --name=<clusterName>

This command will not apply any changes right away, you will need to re-run it with --approve to apply the changes.

The target version for the cluster upgrade can be specified both with the CLI flag:

eksctl upgrade cluster --name=<clusterName> --version=1.16

or with the config file

cat cluster1.yaml
kind: ClusterConfig

  name: cluster-1
  region: eu-north-1
  version: "1.16"

eksctl upgrade cluster --config-file cluster1.yaml


The only values allowed for the --version and metadata.version arguments are the current version of the cluster or one version higher. Upgrades of more than one Kubernetes version are not supported at the moment.