6 best Node.js frameworks to build backend APIs in 2021

Last updated on March 31, 2021 Guest Contributor Loading... Post a comment

Node.js helps us build fast and high-performance backends for websites and mobile apps of all sizes. This job is made easier and more convenient thanks to the help of open-source frameworks.

In this article, we will walk through a list of the best Node.js frameworks for building APIs in 2021 (RESTful and GraphQL).


Express is one of the oldest, most stable Node.js frameworks. It first debuted in 2010, which was shortly after the arrival of Node.js.

Express is lightweight, minimal, and flexible. It provides a thin layer of fundamental web application features, a myriad of HTTP utility methods, and middleware for quickly create REST API. You can also easily implement GraphQL by using the express-graphql library.


Fastify, as its name suggests, is a framework that focuses on performance and speed as well as saving resources for the server when it is up and running.

Like Express, Fastify is quite lightweight, highly flexible, and fully extensible via its hooks, plugins and decorators. As far as we know, this is one of the fastest web frameworks these days with the ability to serve up to 76+ thousand requests per second.


  • GitHub stars: 36k
  • NPM weekly downloads: 600 – 700k
  • Written in: Typescript
  • License: MIT
  • Links: Official website | GitHub repo | NPM page

Nest is a progressive, modern Node.js framework that is growing rapidly, and more and more large businesses are choosing it for their projects.

Nest aims to provide an application architecture out of the box which allows for the effortless creation of highly testable, scalable, loosely coupled, and easily maintainable applications. The architecture is heavily inspired by Angular.

Defining REST API with Nest is simple. If you want to implement GraphQL, just use the built-in @nestjs/graphql module.


Koa is a new web framework designed by the team behind Express, which aims to be a smaller, more expressive, and more robust foundation for web applications and APIs.

By leveraging async functions, Koa allows you to ditch callbacks and greatly increase error-handling. Koa does not bundle any middleware within its core, and it provides an elegant suite of methods that make writing servers fast and enjoyable.


  • GitHub stars: 4k (the previous version gained 13.5k)
  • Written in: Javascript and Typescript
  • License: MIT
  • Links: Official website | GitHub repo

LoopBack is a highly extensible Node.js and TypeScript framework
for building APIs and microservices.

LoopBack 4 is the latest version of this awesome framework. It comes with a new, improved programming model with Dependency Injection and new concepts such as Components, Mixins, Repositories, etc. make this the most extensible version yet.

If you want to translate from REST to GraphQL with LoopBack, the official recommended approach in the docs is to install OpenAPI-to-GraphQL:

npm i -g openapi-to-graphql-cli


Adonis is a Node.js framework that focuses on developer ergonomics, stability, and confidence. It takes care of much of the web development hassles, offering you a clean and stable API to build Web apps and micro services.


We have come across the best Node.js frameworks for building APIs in 2021. You don’t have to understand all of these but know that they exist and know the characteristics will help you to have more approaches and strategies when building and developing the Node.js backend for new projects.

If you would like to explore more interesting things related to Node.js, take a look at the following articles:

You can also check out our Node.js category page for the latest tutorials and examples.

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