React Context API vs Zustand – which one should you use?

As a web developer, you might be in a situation where you need to manage your application's state. When it comes to state management in React, there are several libraries and approaches available, making it hard to decide which one is the best fit for your project. In this blog post, we will discuss and compare two popular state management solutions: React Context API and Zustand. By the end of this post, you will have a better understanding of both approaches, their differences, and which one you should use for your project.

Introduction to React Context API

React Context API is a built-in solution for managing global state in React applications. It was introduced in React 16.3, and it allows developers to share data across the component tree without having to explicitly pass it down through props. The main components of React Context API are the Provider and the Consumer.

How React Context API works

Let's take a look at a simple example to understand how React Context API works. First, we need to create a context using React.createContext():

import React from 'react'; const UserContext = React.createContext();

Now we need to wrap our component tree with a UserContext.Provider and pass a value to it:

import React from 'react'; import UserContext from './UserContext'; const App = () => { const user = { name: 'John Doe', age: 30, }; return ( <UserContext.Provider value={user}> {/* Your component tree goes here */} </UserContext.Provider> ); };

To consume the value provided by UserContext.Provider, we can use the UserContext.Consumer component or the useContext hook:

import React, { useContext } from 'react'; import UserContext from './UserContext'; const UserProfile = () => { const user = useContext(UserContext); return ( <div> <h2>{user.name}</h2> <p>Age: {user.age}</p> </div> ); };

Introduction to Zustand

Zustand is a minimalistic state management library for React. It's easy to set up, and it's designed to be straightforward and unopinionated. Zustand was created by the same team behind the popular React Spring animation library.

How Zustand works

To get started with Zustand, first install the package:

npm install zustand

Now let's create a store using the create function provided by Zustand:

import create from 'zustand'; const useUserStore = create((set) => ({ user: { name: 'John Doe', age: 30, }, setUser: (user) => set({ user }), }));

To access the state and actions from the store, we can use the custom hook useUserStore:

import React from 'react'; import { useUserStore } from './userStore'; const UserProfile = () => { const user = useUserStore((state) => state.user); return ( <div> <h2>{user.name}</h2> <p>Age: {user.age}</p> </div> ); };

Comparing React Context API and Zustand

Now that we have a basic understanding of both React Context API and Zustand, let's compare them based on different criteria.


React Context API is a built-in feature of React, so there are no additional dependencies to install. However, its API is a bit more verbose compared to Zustand. Zustand offers a simpler andmore concise API, making it easier to set up and manage state in your application.

On the other hand, since Zustand is an external library, you will need to install it and manage its updates. If you prefer to stick with built-in React features, the React Context API might be a better choice for you.


In terms of performance, React Context API might lead to unnecessary re-renders when a context value changes. Any component that consumes the context will re-render, even if it only uses a small part of the context value. To prevent this, you can split your context into multiple smaller contexts, but this might make your code more complex.

Zustand addresses this performance issue by allowing you to select only the parts of the state that your component needs. This means that your component will only re-render when the selected parts of the state change.


React Context API is flexible in the sense that it is a built-in feature of React, and you can use it in combination with other state management solutions. However, it can be less flexible in terms of handling complex state updates and async actions. You might need to use additional libraries like Redux or MobX to handle these cases.

Zustand offers a more flexible approach, as it allows you to manage state updates and async actions without needing any additional libraries. Zustand is also compatible with middleware, so you can easily extend its functionality.

When to use React Context API or Zustand

Both React Context API and Zustand have their own advantages and drawbacks. To determine which one you should use, consider the following scenarios:

  • If your application has a simple global state and you prefer using built-in React features, React Context API might be the better choice for you.
  • If your application has complex state updates, async actions, or requires better performance optimizations, Zustand is likely the better option.

Keep in mind that you can also use both solutions in the same application, depending on your needs. For example, you can use React Context API for simple global state management and Zustand for more complex parts of your application.


Q: Can I use React Context API and Zustand together in the same application?

A: Yes, you can use both solutions in the same application. React Context API can be used for simple global state management, while Zustand can be used for more complex parts of your application.

Q: Is Zustand suitable for large-scale applications?

A: Zustand is designed to be minimalistic and easy to use, making it suitable for small to medium-sized applications. However, it can also be used in large-scale applications, especially when combined with middleware and other state management solutions.

Q: How does Zustand compare to Redux?

A: Redux is a more robust state management solution with a larger ecosystem and more advanced features like time-travel debugging. Zustand, on the other hand, is a lighter and simpler alternative. If you need advanced features and a well-established ecosystem, Redux might be a better fit. However, if you're looking for a simple and easy-to-use solution, Zustand is a great choice.

Q: Do I need to learn a new API when switching from React Context API to Zustand?

A: Zustand offers a different API than React Context API, but it's relatively simple to learn. If you're familiar with React hooks, you should be able to pick up Zustand quickly.

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