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How to install TailwindCSS 2 on Rails 6

by Axel Kee 10 December 2020

TailwindCSS v2.0 was released on 19 November 2020 πŸŽ‰, but it had a few changes that requires some tweak to install and use it on Rails 6, such as the requirement of PostCSS 8 and Webpack 5. As of current (10 December 2020), Rails 6 comes with webpack 4 and PostCSS 7, which doesn’t match the requirement of TailwindCSS v2.

If we install TailwindCSS v2 directly on a Rails 6 app using yarn add tailwindcss , we might get a error (PostCSS plugin tailwindcss requires PostCSS 8) like this when running the server :

postcss8 error

This tutorial will guide you on how to install and use TailwindCSS 2 on Rails 6 using new Webpacker version(v5+). If webpack / webpacker v5+ breaks your current Rails app javascript stuff, I recommend using the compability build of Tailwind following this tutorial.

Update webpacker gem and npm package

Currently the latest Webpacker NPM package is not up to date to the master branch of Webpacker repository, we need to use the Github master version until Rails team decide to push the new version of webpacker into NPM registry.

webpacker release

To do this, we need to uninstall the current webpacker in our Rails app :

yarn remove @rails/webpacker

And install the latest webpacker directly from Github (notice without the β€œ@”) :

yarn add rails/webpacker

Here’s the difference in package.json :


Next, we need to do the same for the Webpacker gem as well, as they haven’t push the latest webpacker code in Github to RubyGems registry.

In your Gemfile, change the webpacker gem from :

gem 'webpacker', '~> 4.0'


gem "webpacker", github: "rails/webpacker"

then run bundle install to install the gem from its Github repository. You should see the webpacker gem is version 5+ now :

webpacker master

Install Tailwind CSS 2

After updating the webpacker gem, we can install TailwindCSS (and its peer dependency) using yarn :

yarn add tailwindcss postcss autoprefixer

We can use webpacker for handling Tailwind CSS in our Rails app, create a folder named stylesheets inside app/javascript (the full path would be app/javascript/stylesheets).

Inside the app/javascript/stylesheets folder, create a file and name it β€œapplication.scss”, then import Tailwind related CSS inside this file :

/* application.scss */
@import "tailwindcss/base";
@import "tailwindcss/components";
@import "tailwindcss/utilities";

The file structure looks like this :

application scss file structure

Then in app/javascript/packs/application.js , require the application.scss :

// app/javascript/packs/application.js



Next, we have to add stylesheet_pack_tag that reference the app/javascript/stylesheets/application.scss file in the layout file (app/views/layouts/application.html.erb). So the layout can import the stylesheet there.

<!-- app/views/layouts/application.html.erb-->

<!DOCTYPE html>
    <%= csrf_meta_tags %>
    <%= csp_meta_tag %>

    <%= stylesheet_link_tag 'application', media: 'all', 'data-turbolinks-track': 'reload' %>
    <!-- This refers to app/javascript/stylesheets/application.scss-->
    <%= stylesheet_pack_tag 'application', 'data-turbolinks-track': 'reload' %>

    <%= javascript_pack_tag 'application', 'data-turbolinks-track': 'reload' %>

Add TailwindCSS to PostCSS config

Next, we will add TailwindCSS into the postcss.config.js file (located in your Rails app root) :

// postcss.config.js

module.exports = {
  plugins: [
      autoprefixer: {
        flexbox: 'no-2009'
      stage: 3

If you are not using the default file name for TailwindCSS configuration file (tailwind.config.js) , you need to specify it after the tailwindcss require :

// postcss.config.js

module.exports = {
  plugins: [
    // if you are using non default config filename
      autoprefixer: {
        flexbox: 'no-2009'
      stage: 3

Now we can use the Tailwind CSS classes on our HTML elements!

<h1>This is static#index</h1>
<div class="bg-red-500 w-3/4 mx-auto p-4">
  <p class="text-white text-2xl">Test test test</p>


You can refer to Tailwind CSS documentation for the list of classes you can use.

For further Tailwind CSS customization and configuring PurgeCSS, you can refer this post.


Thanks Kieran for writing the Tailwind CSS 2 upgrade guide.