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Managing nodegroups

You can add one or more nodegroups in addition to the initial nodegroup created along with the cluster.

To create an additional nodegroup, use:

eksctl create nodegroup --cluster=<clusterName> [--name=<nodegroupName>]


By default, new nodegroups inherit the version from the control plane (--version=auto), but you can specify a different version e.g. --version=1.10, you can also use --version=latest to force use of whichever is the latest version.

Additionally, you can use the same config file used for eksctl create cluster:

eksctl create nodegroup --config-file=<path>

If there are multiple nodegroups specified in the file, you can select a subset via --include=<glob,glob,...> and --exclude=<glob,glob,...>:

eksctl create nodegroup --config-file=<path> --include='ng-prod-*-??' --exclude='ng-test-1-ml-a,ng-test-2-?'

Include and exclude rules

The behavior of the eksctl create nodegroup command is modified by these flags in the following way:

  • if no --include or --exclude are specified everything is included
  • if only --include is specified only nodegroups that mach those globs will be included
  • if only --exclude is specified all nodegroups that do not match those globes are included
  • if both are specified then --exclude rules take precedence over --include (i.e. nodegroups that match rules in both groups will be excluded)

Creating a nodegroup from a config file

Nodegroups can also be created through a cluster definition or config file. Given the following example config file and an existing cluster called ``dev-cluster:

kind: ClusterConfig

  name: dev-cluster
  region: eu-north-1

  - name: ng-1-workers
    labels: { role: workers }
    instanceType: m5.xlarge
    desiredCapacity: 10
    volumeSize: 80
    privateNetworking: true
  - name: ng-2-builders
    labels: { role: builders }
    instanceType: m5.2xlarge
    desiredCapacity: 2
    volumeSize: 100
    privateNetworking: true

The nodegroups ng-1-workers and ng-2-builders can be created with this command:

eksctl create nodegroup --config-file=dev-cluster.yaml

If you have already prepared for attaching existing classic load balancers or/and target groups to the nodegroups, you can specify these in the config file. The classic load balancers or/and target groups are automatically associated with the ASG when creating nodegroups.

kind: ClusterConfig

  name: dev-cluster
  region: eu-north-1

  - name: ng-1-web
    labels: { role: web }
    instanceType: m5.xlarge
    desiredCapacity: 10
    privateNetworking: true
      - dev-clb-1
      - dev-clb-2
      - granularity: 1Minute
          - GroupMinSize
          - GroupMaxSize
          - GroupDesiredCapacity
          - GroupInServiceInstances
          - GroupPendingInstances
          - GroupStandbyInstances
          - GroupTerminatingInstances
          - GroupTotalInstances
  - name: ng-2-api
    labels: { role: api }
    instanceType: m5.2xlarge
    desiredCapacity: 2
    privateNetworking: true
      - arn:aws:elasticloadbalancing:eu-north-1:01234567890:targetgroup/dev-target-group-1/abcdef0123456789

Listing nodegroups

To list the details about a nodegroup or all of the nodegroups, use:

eksctl get nodegroup --cluster=<clusterName> [--name=<nodegroupName>]

Nodegroup immutability

By design, nodegroups are immutable. This means that if you need to change something (other than scaling) like the AMI or the instance type of a nodegroup, you would need to create a new nodegroup with the desired changes, move the load and delete the old one. Check Deleting and draining.


A nodegroup can be scaled by using the eksctl scale nodegroup command:

eksctl scale nodegroup --cluster=<clusterName> --nodes=<desiredCount> --name=<nodegroupName> [ --nodes-min=<minSize> ] [ --nodes-max=<maxSize> ]

For example, to scale nodegroup ng-a345f4e1 in cluster-1 to 5 nodes, run:

eksctl scale nodegroup --cluster=cluster-1 --nodes=5 ng-a345f4e1

If the desired number of nodes is NOT within the range of current minimum and current maximum nodes, one specific error will be shown. Kindly note that these values can also be passed with flags --nodes-min and --nodes-max respectively.

Scaling a nodegroup works by modifying the nodegroup CloudFormation stack via a ChangeSet.


Scaling a nodegroup down/in (i.e. reducing the number of nodes) may result in errors as we rely purely on changes to the ASG. This means that the node(s) being removed/terminated aren't explicitly drained. This may be an area for improvement in the future.

You can also enable SSH, ASG access and other feature for each particular nodegroup, e.g.:

eksctl create nodegroup --cluster=cluster-1 --node-labels="autoscaling=enabled,purpose=ci-worker" --asg-access --full-ecr-access --ssh-access

Update labels

There are no specific commands in eksctlto update the labels of a nodegroup but that can easily be achieved using kubectl:

kubectl label nodes -l new-label=foo

Deleting and draining

To delete a nodegroup, run:

eksctl delete nodegroup --cluster=<clusterName> --name=<nodegroupName>

Include and exclude rules can also be used with this command.


This will drain all pods from that nodegroup before the instances are deleted.

All nodes are cordoned and all pods are evicted from a nodegroup on deletion, but if you need to drain a nodegroup without deleting it, run:

eksctl drain nodegroup --cluster=<clusterName> --name=<nodegroupName>

To uncordon a nodegroup, run:

eksctl drain nodegroup --cluster=<clusterName> --name=<nodegroupName> --undo

Nodegroup selection in config files

To perform a create or delete operation on only a subset of the nodegroups specified in a config file, there are two CLI flags: include and exclude. These accept a list of globs such as ng-dev-*, for example.

Using the example config file above, one can create all the workers nodegroup except the workers one with the following command:

eksctl create nodegroup --config-file=dev-cluster.yaml --exclude=ng-1-workers

Or one could delete the builders nodegroup with:

eksctl delete nodegroup --config-file=dev-cluster.yaml --include=ng-2-builders --approve

In this case, we also need to supply the --approve command to actually delete the nodegroup.