Nivea shows you how to allow
API users to run AWS Lambda using
their Amazon Cognito permissions


My API has Amazon Cognito user pool authentication and uses AWS Lambda as a proxy resource. How do I allow my API users to run Lambda using the AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) role (execution role) associated with their Amazon Cognito user pool group, instead of using the default Lambda role?

Note: In addition to Amazon Cognito user pools, you can also configure an identity pool to authorize access to your API. For more information, see Role-Based Access Control.

Before you set up users to run Lambda with their Amazon Cognito role, be sure you've set up the following:

  • An Amazon Cognito user pool and group with an associated IAM role
  • A client application that is set up with Amazon Cognito user authentication
  • An API that is set up with Lambda as a proxy resource

To allow users to run Lambda with their Amazon Cognito permissions, follow these steps:

  1. Use the API Gateway console to establish your Amazon Cognito user pool as an authorizer. Then, assign the Amazon Cognito user pool as the authorizer for the method of your API. For instructions, see Integrate an API with a User Pool.
  2. Open the AWS Lambda console.
  3. Choose the Lambda function that was configured as a proxy resource for your API.
  4. Edit the Lambda function and add the following code snippet, which fetches the Amazon Cognito role from event details and then assumes the role.

Note: To run this code snippet, your Lambda IAM role (execution role) must allow you to access CloudWatch Logs and to run the assume_role command.

import boto3
client = boto3.client('sts')
def lambda_handler(event, context):
    response = client.assume_role(
    response2api = {"statusCode": 200,"headers": { },"body": "Success"}
    return response2api

A user can belong to more than one Amazon Cognito user pool, and each group can have a different IAM role. If a user belongs to two or more groups, the cognito:roles claim returns a list of roles. The cognito:preferred_role claim in the user's ID token inherits the IAM role of the group with the lowest precedence value. To fetch the cognito:preferred_role, use this code snippet:

role = event['requestContext']['authorizer']['claims']['cognito:preferred_role']

To verify that users can run Lambda with their Amazon Cognito role, follow these steps:

  1. Open your client application and log in as a user in the Amazon Cognito user pool.
  2. Make a call to your API using the ID token you receive after you log in.
  3. Verify that you can access the same resources defined in the Amazon Cognito user pool role.
  4. Optionally, check CloudWatch Logs to verify that the assume_role command was successful.

Note: If you use a custom authorizer instead of a user pool authorizer to authorize access to your API, be sure that you use the user pool token that is validated by the authorizer. You must validate the token before you assume the token's role.

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Published: 2018-06-13