Creating an API in Laravel: Tutorial and Best Practices

Posted on March 2nd, 2023

Laravel is a popular PHP framework for building custom APIs. In this article, we’ll show you how to build a secure, scalable, and efficient API with Laravel, covering best practices for designing, building, testing, optimizing, documenting, and deploying your API.

We’ll guide you through the process of setting up your environment, designing your API, building your API with Laravel, testing it, optimizing it, documenting it, and deploying it. By the end of this article, you’ll have a solid understanding of how to create a custom API with Laravel.

If you have any previous experience with Laravel, even with the smallest project, this article will help you build APIs that allow applications to communicate with each other, access data, and perform various tasks. If you do not have any prior Laravel experience, You can follow our Laravel fundamentals guide.

As introduction is now covered, let’s get started! First, we will set up the environment. If you already have a Laravel project ready, You can skip the first section.

Set up the Environment

First of all, Make sure you have PHP and composer installed. If you do not have LAMP stack or requirements installed, Follow our guide to set up LAMP stack on your machine.

Once you have the prerequisites clear, go to the directory where you want to create a new project. Then execute the following command.

$ composer create-project --prefer-dist laravel/laravel project_directory

Once the installation is done, connect your database with the project by editing the following directives in the .env file of the project.

  1. DB_CONNECTION: Here you can set the DBMS you want to use for the project.
  2. DB_HOST: In most environments, It will be ‘localhost’. Only set the IP address of the database server if it is a different machine than your current machine.
  3. DB_PORT: Set the port for your DBMS. For MySQL, it is 3306.
  4. DB_DATABASE: Enter the database name here.
  5. DB_USERNAME: Enter the database username here.
  6. DB_PASSWORD: Enter the password for your database user here.

Now, the environment is set up. You can test the database connection using the following command.

$ php artisan migrate

If it works, You can move forward and execute the project by running the following command.

$ php artisan serve

Now, You will be able to access your Laravel project at http://localhost:8000. Let’s move to the next step!

Building the API in Laravel

Creating API in Laravel is not so different than creating a normal web application. The only major difference when it comes to building an API with Laravel is, You have to create routes in the api.php file instead of web.php file. And, You also have to return return just the json containing data in the response. There will be no difference in the requests.

As the basics are clear, Let’s go through an example. First of all, we will create a new controller in Laravel. Execute the following command to create a new controller in your project.

$ php artisan make:controller TestController

Once the controller is ready, Open the controller file in the text editor and add the following function in the file.

public function getUsers() {
$users = User::all();
return response()->json(['users' => $users]);

Now, add a new route in the routes/api.php file.

Route::get('/users', 'TestController@getUsers');

Our route and the logic are ready for this API endpoint. You can access the API endpoint we just made using the following URL.


In response, You will get all the users from the users table in json format. You can also add status codes and status messages in the response from the controller, Which is a good practice.

As Authentication is a critical part of any API, and Laravel provides several built-in authentication options, such as JWT authentication, Passport, and Sanctum. You can implement authentication by following the Laravel documentation for the authentication option you choose. Authorization determines which users are allowed to access which resources in your API. You can implement authorization by using Laravel’s built-in authorization features, such as gates and policies.

Optimising the API

Optimizing your API is crucial for ensuring that it performs well, scales efficiently, and delivers a great user experience. Here are some best practices for optimizing your API built with Laravel:

  1. Use caching: Caching can significantly improve the performance of your API by reducing the number of requests to the database. Laravel provides several caching options, such as file, database, and Redis caching.
  2. Use pagination: Pagination is an essential technique for managing large datasets and reducing the response time of your API. Laravel provides built-in pagination features that you can use to paginate your API results.
  3. Use compression: Compression can reduce the size of your API responses, resulting in faster response times and reduced bandwidth usage. Laravel provides built-in support for gzip compression.
  4. Use Eloquent optimizations: Eloquent is Laravel’s built-in ORM, and it provides several optimization techniques, such as eager loading, lazy loading, and chunking. Using these techniques can significantly improve the performance of your API.
  5. Use caching headers: Caching headers can help reduce the number of requests to your API by allowing clients to cache responses. Laravel provides built-in support for caching headers, such as Cache-Control and ETag.

By following these best practices, you can ensure that your API performs well, scales efficiently, and delivers a great user experience. In the next section, we’ll cover best practices for documenting your API.


Building a custom API with Laravel can be a powerful way to create a flexible and scalable backend for your web or mobile application. By following the best practices we’ve covered in this article, you can ensure that your API is well-designed, well-implemented, well-optimized, well-documented, and well-secured.

Remember to always keep your users in mind and provide a great user experience. This includes designing your API with simplicity and consistency in mind, optimizing your API for performance and scalability, documenting your API for ease of use, and securing your API to protect user data and privacy.

By following these best practices, you can build a custom API with Laravel that delivers a great user experience and helps you achieve your business goals. We hope this article has been helpful, and we wish you success in your API building endeavors!

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