AWS Compute Blog

Analyzing API Gateway custom access logs for custom domain names

This post is courtesy of Taka Matsumoto, Cloud Support Engineer, AWS

If you are using custom domain names in Amazon API Gateway, it can be useful to gain insights into requests sent to each custom domain name. Although API Gateway provides CloudWatch metrics and options to deliver request logs to Amazon CloudWatch Logs, there is no pre-defined metric or log specific to custom domain names. If there is more than one custom domain name mapped to a single API, understanding the quantity and type of requests by domain name may help understand request patterns.

Using the custom access logging option in API Gateway enables delivery of custom logs to CloudWatch Logs, which can be analyzed using CloudWatch Logs Insights. This blog post walks through the steps to create a CloudWatch log group for API custom access logging, and uses CloudWatch Logs Insights for analysis.


In the tutorial, you create a CloudWatch log group for custom access logging. You then enable custom access logging for an API stage associated with a custom domain name. The IAM role used in this tutorial must be able to create and update the relevant resources in CloudWatch, IAM, and API Gateway. For this tutorial, use the US East (N. Virginia) Region. In the next steps, the tutorial covers:

  1. Creating a CloudWatch Log group.
  2. Creating an IAM role for access logging.
  3. Enabling custom access logging.
  4. Testing an API using a custom domain name.
  5. Analyzing Logs in CloudWatch Logs Insights.

1. Create a CloudWatch Log group

Before enabling custom access logging for your API’s stage, create a CloudWatch log group to deliver custom logs. Create a log group called APIGateway_CustomDomainLogs by following these steps:

  1. Go to the CloudWatch Logs console.
  2. Under Actions, click on Create log group and name the log group APIGateway_CustomDomainLogs. Learn more about creating a log group in Working with Log Groups and Log Streams.

Create log group

2. Create an IAM role for access logging

You must use an IAM role to deliver logs from API Gateway to CloudWatch Logs. If there is no IAM role already available for logging in API Gateway, create a new IAM role:

  1. Navigate to the IAM console.
  2. Under Roles, choose Create role.
  3. Select API Gateway for the service and choose Next: Permissions.IAM selection
  4. Leave the attached IAM policy (AmazonAPIGatewayPushToCloudWatchLogs), and choose Next: Tags.
  5. No tags are required for this tutorial. Leave these blank and choose Next: Review.
  6. Name the role APIGatewayCloudWatchLogsRole and choose Create role.
    Create role

3. Enable custom access logging

Now you enable custom access logging. Select one of the API stages that you invoke through a custom domain name:

  1. If there is no CloudWatch log role set for API Gateway, go to the API Gateway Settings page to add the CloudWatch log role ARN. The IAM role ARN follows this format: arn:aws:iam::123456789012:role/APIGatewayCloudWatchLogsRole.
  2. For your API with a custom domain name, go to Stages page and select the Logs/Tracing tab.
  3. Enter the following fields:
    – For CloudWatch Group, add the ARN (for example, arn:aws:logs:us-east-1:123456789012:log-group:APIGateway_CustomDomainLogs).
    – For Log Format, enter:

        "RequestId": "$context.requestId",
        "DomainName": "$context.domainName",
        "APIId": "$context.apiId",
        "RequestPath": "$context.path",
        "RequestTime": "$context.requestTime",
        "SourceIp": "$context.identity.sourceIp",
        "ResourcePath": "$context.resourcePath",
        "Stage": "$context.stage"

    Custom access logging

  4.  Choose Save changes.

Learn more about custom access logging setup in Set up API Logging Using the API Gateway Console. In the Log Format configuration, $context variables retrieve a domain name as well as other API request information. Learn more in $context Variables for Data Models, Authorizers, Mapping Templates, and CloudWatch Access Logging.

4. Test invoke an API using a custom domain name

Once you enable custom access logging, invoke the API using the custom domain name. The logs appear in the specified CloudWatch log group shortly after. A sample response in the CloudWatch log stream looks like the following:

    "RequestId": "1b1ebe20-817f-11e9-a796-f5e0ffdcdac7",
    "DomainName": "”,
    "APIId": "12345abcde",
    "RequestPath": "/dev",
    "RequestTime": "28/May/2019:19:30:52 +0000",
    "SourceIp": "",
    "ResourcePath": "/",
    "Stage": "dev"

5. Analyze logs in CloudWatch Logs Insights

After setting up the custom access logs, you can query against them to find more insights using the custom domain name.

  1. Go to CloudWatch Logs Insights console.
  2. In the log group text field, select the CloudWatch log group, APIGateway_CustomDomainLogs.
  3. Enter the following query.
    fields @timestamp, @message
    | filter DomainName like /(?i)(

    This query returns a list of log entries for the custom domain called To run in your account, replace this value with your custom domain name.
    Custom filter

If your network security does not allow the use of web sockets, you cannot access the CloudWatch Logs Insights console. Instead, use the CloudWatch Logs Insights query capabilities using the API. Here are some example queries use the AWS CLI:

1. A sample command for aws logs start-query:

aws logs start-query --log-group-name APIGateway_CustomDomainLogs --start-time 1557085225000 --end-time 1559763625000 --query-string 'fields @timestamp, @message | filter DomainName like /(?i)('

The response looks like:

    "queryId": "a1234567-bfde-47c7-9d44-41ebed011c66"

Learn more about start-query command in aws logs start-query.

2. Run aws logs get-query-results to retrieve the result of the query. A sample command for aws logs get-query-results:

aws logs get-query-results --query-id a1234567-bfde-47c7-9d44-41ebed011c66

The response looks like:

    "results": [
                "field": "@timestamp",
                "value": "2019-05-28 19:30:52.494"
                "field": "@message",
                "value": "{\"RequestId\": \"12345678-7cb3-11e9-8896-c30af5588427\",\"DomainName\":\"\"}"
                "field": "@ptr",
    "statistics": {
        "recordsMatched": 1.0,
        "recordsScanned": 1.0,
        "bytesScanned": 153.0
    "status": "Complete"

You can use other queries to filter the results based on other attributes in the logs. Learn more about get-query-results command in aws logs get-query-results.


In this blog post, I show how to deliver custom access logs from API Gateway to CloudWatch Logs. I also show how to use CloudWatch Logs Insights to run a query against the logs for custom domain name metrics, which help provide insights into custom domain name usage.

To learn more about the query syntax, visit CloudWatch Logs Insights Query Syntax.