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Thursday, October 26, 2023

Launch Your First Tailwind CSS React App in Just 60 Minutes


Tailwind CSS is a utility-first CSS framework that has exploded in popularity over the last few years. It makes styling web apps incredibly fast and intuitive by allowing you to compose styling entirely from utility classes like text-center, px-4, and bg-blue-500 directly in your HTML.

Compared to traditional CSS, Tailwind's utility classes improve developer experience by eliminating the need to context switch between HTML, CSS, and JS files. By co-locating classes with your markup, you can build and iterate on UIs incredibly fast.

With its growing community and extensive customization options, integrating Tailwind into modern JavaScript frameworks like React is a breeze. In just 60 minutes, this step-by-step tailwind css react tutorial will walk you through initializing a new React project, installing and configuring Tailwind and PostCSS, exploring key features like responsive design and customization, building reusable UI components, and optimizing your final build. You'll have a fully functioning Tailwind CSS React app up and running in no time!

We'll provide all the code snippets, examples, and explanations you need to get started fast. The goal is to demonstrate how easy it is to use Tailwind for styling in React without getting bogged down in minutiae. Whether you're new to React, Tailwind, or both - stick with us and you'll be impressing yourself with a beautiful, responsive website in just 60 minutes!

Setting Up the React Project

To start using Tailwind CSS with React, we first need to initialize a new React project and install Tailwind and PostCSS. We'll use Create React App to scaffold our project and then configure Tailwind and PostCSS by installing the required packages via npm.

Initializing npm

We begin by running npm init in an empty directory to initialize our npm project. This will prompt you to enter details like the project name, version, description, etc and create a package.json file to manage dependencies.

For example:

npm init react-tailwind-demo

Installing Tailwind and PostCSS

Next we need to install Tailwind CSS, PostCSS (to process the Tailwind directives), and autoprefixer (for browser compatibility):

npm install tailwindcss postcss autoprefixer

PostCSS will compile our Tailwind CSS during the build process while autoprefixer will make sure any CSS rules work across all modern browsers.

Configuring Tailwind

The tailwind.config.js file is where we configure Tailwind by specifying the content paths to watch, default theme, plugins, etc.

Here's a simple config to get started:

// tailwind.config.js

module.exports = {
  content: [
  theme: {
    extend: {},
  plugins: [],

We can customize the default theme values, add useful plugins like Tailwind UI or Typography, and extend or override the default styles later on.

Configuring PostCSS

In postcss.config.js we need to register Tailwind as a PostCSS plugin and include the path to our Tailwind config:

// postcss.config.js

module.exports = {
  plugins: [

This tells PostCSS to process the Tailwind directives and produce the bundled CSS file.

Trying Examples

Now we can add some Tailwind classes to App.js as an initial test:

// App.js

export default function App() {
  return (
    <div className="text-center p-4 bg-blue-500">
      <h1 className="text-xl">Welcome to my App!</h1>

The text-center, p-4, and bg-blue-500 utility classes quickly style our <div> without needing any custom CSS. Let's move on to learning more about Tailwind's features!

Key Features of Tailwind CSS

Tailwind's utility-first workflow, responsive design tools, and extensive customization options are what set it apart from traditional CSS frameworks.

Utility-First Workflow

Instead of writing custom CSS, Tailwind allows you to style directly in HTML by composing multiple utility classes together:

  class="bg-blue-500 text-white font-bold py-2 px-4 rounded"

This approach means you can build UIs faster without context switching between files.

For example, to make a button component responsive, you can simply add breakpoints:

  class="bg-blue-500 text-white px-4 py-2 rounded md:px-6 md:py-3"  
  Responsive Button

Much faster than editing CSS media queries!

Responsive Design

Making components responsive is easy with Tailwind's breakpoint prefixes:

<div class="bg-gray-500 md:bg-blue-500">Responsive background!</div>

Use sm, md, lg, and xl prefixes to control behavior across device sizes.


Tailwind is customizable through the tailwind.config.js file. For example, to change the default primary color and font:

// tailwind.config.js
module.exports = {
  theme: {
    extend: {
      colors: {
        primary: '#000' 
      fontFamily: {
        sans: ['Inter', 'sans-serif']

You can also add custom CSS or plugins.

Purging and Optimization

To optimize final CSS file size, Tailwind will tree shake unused styles and purge any excess CSS.

Integrating Tailwind with React

Let's look at how we can structure and style a React app using Tailwind's utility classes and components.

Global Styles

Import Tailwind in ./src/index.css so it's globally available:

/* ./src/index.css */

@tailwind base;
@tailwind components;
@tailwind utilities;

Layout Structure

Here's a simple layout structure using Flexbox:

// App.js

export default function App() {
  return (
    <div className="flex flex-col h-screen">
      {/* Navbar */}
      <nav className="bg-gray-800 text-white p-4">
        <h1 className="text-3xl font-bold">App Name</h1>
      {/* Content */}
      <main className="flex-1 p-4">
        <h2 className="text-2xl font-bold mb-2">Welcome!</h2>
        <p>This is the content section with text explaining the React app we're building.</p>  

      {/* Footer */}
      <footer className="bg-gray-800 text-white p-4">
        Copyright &copy; 2022 App Name 

We can make this fully responsive later on.

Styling Components

Utility classes can style pretty much any element or component:

// Button.js

export default function Button({ text }) {
  return (
      className="bg-blue-500 text-white font-bold py-2 px-4 rounded hover:bg-blue-700"

Add images, cards, forms, etc. and use utilities like w-full, text-center, shadow-lg to customize their styling.

Building Reusable UI

We can build reusable React components with Tailwind classes:

// Card.js

export default function Card() {
  return (
    <div className="p-4 rounded-lg shadow-lg">
      <h3 className="font-bold text-xl mb-2">Card Component</h3>
      <p>This is a reusable card component for displaying content!</p> 

Import and render <Card /> anywhere in our app.

Advanced Features

Let's explore some advanced features to take our Tailwind skills to the next level.

Complex Responsive Layouts

For complex responsive behavior, use a combination of:

This allows full control over responsive sizing and layouts.


To further customize your project:

  • Modify Tailwind theme values like colors, spacing, fonts
  • Extract reusable component classes into a shared CSS file
  • Add custom CSS rules, variants, or plugins

See the Tailwind docs for examples.

Plugins and Libraries

Consider integrating useful Tailwind plugins like:

There are many 3rd party plugins to explore as well.

For pre-designed components try Tailwind UI or Headless UI. These allow building UIs even faster.


For production, enable PurgeCSS to remove unused CSS and minify your final CSS bundle.

See the Optimizing for Production docs for details.


In just 60 minutes we walked through setting up a Tailwind CSS React app, explored its utility-first workflow and customization features, integrated Tailwind classes into our React components, and saw how easy it is to build a responsive UI without writing custom CSS.

Tailwind's vast collection of intuitive utilities, responsive design tools, ability to customize everything, and seamless integration with modern frameworks like React make it a joy to use for rapid web development.

We only scratched the surface here, so refer to the Tailwind docs to learn more about:

  • Responsive design, layouts, and containers
  • Customizing your theme, plugins, variants
  • Purging unused CSS and optimizing your build

The key benefits of using Tailwind CSS with React are improved speed from utility classes, full customization, responsive design tools, and ease of use. With these skills you can now easily integrate Tailwind CSS into your React projects and build beautiful UIs faster than ever!