Top 5 best Node.js Open Source Headless CMS in 2023

Updated: January 4, 2023 By: Guest Contributor Post a comment

Using a Node.js Headless CMS (CMS stands for Content Management System) will help you quickly build a fast and high-performance self-hosted backend for your application with many pre-made things like an admin dashboard, content CRUD (create, read, update, and delete) system, file management, authentication for the administrator, etc.

In this article, we will cover the best open-source Node.js Headless CMSs for 2023. You can use them with any frontend technology you want, such as React, Vue, Angular, Flutter, etc.


Strapi gives you the ability to easily customize the admin panel as well as the API (RESTful or GraphQL). You can also extend the CMS feature in seconds by installing plugins developed by the community.

Strapi is well documented and currently used by many large brands like NASA, Toyota, Walmart, Tata, etc.

To initialize Strapi, just run the following command:

npx create-strapi-app my-project --quickstart


yarn create strapi-app my-project --quickstart


Ghost is a full-stack, modern publishing platform, but you can totally use it as a headless CMS. Its core consists of a robust JSON API, a beautiful admin client app, and a simple theme layer.

Ghost is used by many big companies and startups, including Duolingo, Unsplash, The Listener, Duck Duck Go (Blog), Open AI, Airtable, Square, etc.

The team behind Ghost also offers Ghost Pro, which comes with some paid services like domain, hosting, worldwide CDN, server maintenance & backups, support, etc.


You can quickly create a powerful GraphQL API with KeystoneJS by configuring your scheme in Javascript. This headless CMS currently supports MongoDB and PostgreSQL databases.


ApostropheCMS is a full content management system, but you can turn it into a lightweight headless CMS by using its apostrophe-headless module. You can easily create new content types by defining schemas and immediately have a friendly interface for managing them on the back end… and REST APIs on the front end for React, React Native, and other frontend frameworks to talk to.

Apostrophe is widely used by many projects, including Apron, Franklin & Marshall College, Oatly, Cloud Raker, The Science Center, etc.


Payload is a modern self-host Node.js CMS based on Express, MongoDB, and React (for the admin dashboard). It comes with tons of powerful features that can help you quickly build web apps, mobile app backends, and other kinds of projects of every shape and size.

if you have worked with WordPress and React, surely you know about hooks and the benefits they provide (although hooks in WordPress and hooks in React are different things). In Payload, there are also hooks. Both document and field-level hooks expose a ton of potential. They can help you customize the output, sanitize incoming data, or easily integrate with third-party platforms. Other key features:

  • GraphQL, REST, and Local APIs
  • An out-of-the-box but highly customizable React admin dashboard.
  • Extensible Authentication
  • Array field type
  • Local file storage & upload

If you love writing code in TypeScript, then you are very likely to love Payload.

Wrapping Up

We have gone through the most popular open-source Node.js Headless CMSs for your next project in 2023. They are all widely used and have their own advantages, and it’s hard to pinpoint a clear winner. Install and play around with them and find the right one for you.

If you would like to explore more interesting things about 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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