Using Jekyll with Bundler

07 March 2018 mkasberg mkasberg

Bundler provides a consistent environment for Ruby projects by tracking and installing the exact gems and versions that are needed.

Bundler can be a great tool to use with Jekyll. Because it tracks dependencies on a per-project basis, it is particularly useful if you need to run different versions of Jekyll in different projects.

In addition, because it can (optionally) install dependencies in the project folder, it can help you avoid permissions issues you might otherwise run into. The usual way to use Jekyll is to install Jekyll to the system’s default gem installation directory and then run jekyll new. In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to create a new Jekyll project using Bundler and without installing gems outside the project directory.

This is not the simplest way to start using Jekyll

This tutorial helps you get Jekyll set up using Bundler, and optionally without any system-wide gem installations. If prefer installing the jekyll command to your default gem installation directory, you might want the Quickstart.

Before You Begin

To complete this tutorial, you’ll need to have Ruby and Bundler installed. You can find the installation instructions on their websites.

Initialize Bundler

The first thing to do is create a new directory for your project and run bundle init. This creates a new Bundler project (by creating an empty Gemfile).

mkdir my-jekyll-website
cd my-jekyll-website
bundle init

Configure Bundler Install Path

This step is optional. In this step, we’re going to configure Bundler to install gems in the ./vendor/bundle/ project subdirectory. The advantage of doing this is that bundler will install gems within your project folder instead of the location used by gem install. This can help you avoid permissions errors you might otherwise get during gem installation, depending how you installed Ruby. If you skip this step, Bundler will install your dependencies to the location used by gem install.

bundle config set --local path 'vendor/bundle'
Bundler Config is Persistent

This step is only required once per project. Bundler saves your config in ./.bundle/config, so future gems will be installed to the same location.

Add Jekyll

Now, we’re going to use Bundler to add Jekyll as a dependency of our new project. This command will add the Jekyll gem to our Gemfile and install it to the ./vendor/bundle/ folder (or your default gem installation directory if you didn’t set a custom path).

bundle add jekyll

Create A Jekyll Scaffold

Now that Jekyll is installed, we can use it to create the scaffolding for our site. We need the --force parameter because our folder isn’t empty - it already has some Bundler files in it. We run the bundle install separately because Jekyll gets confused if the Gemfile already exists.

bundle exec jekyll new --force --skip-bundle .
bundle install

Serve the Site

Your new website is ready! You can serve the website with bundle exec jekyll serve and visit it at From here, you’re ready to continue developing the site on your own. All of the normal Jekyll commands are available to you, but you should prefix them with bundle exec so that Bundler runs the version of Jekyll that is installed in your project folder.

Commit to Source Control

If you’re storing your new site in version control, you’ll want to ignore the ./vendor/ and ./.bundle/ folders since they contain user- or platform-specific information. New users will be able to install the correct dependencies based on Gemfile and Gemfile.lock, which should both be checked in. You can use this .gitignore to get started, if you want.


# Ignore metadata generated by Jekyll

# Ignore folders generated by Bundler