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Drizzle ORM: A performant and type-safe alternative to Prisma


I’ve written an article about a similar, more well-known TypeScript ORM named Prisma in the past. While it is a fantastic library that I’ve used and have had success with personally, I noted a couple things in particular that I didn’t love about it. Specifically, how it handles relations with add-on queries and also its bulk that can slow down requests in Lambda and other similar serverless environments. Because of these reasons, I took notice of a newer player in the TypeScript ORM space named Drizzle pretty quickly.

The first thing that I noticed about Drizzle and really liked is that even though they call it an ‘ORM’ it’s more of a type-safe query builder. It reminds me of a JS query builder library called ‘Knex’ that I used to use years ago. It also feels like the non-futuristic version of EdgeDB which is another technology that I’m pretty excited about, but committing to it still feels like a gamble at this stage in its development.

In contrast to Prisma, Drizzle is a ‘thin TypeScript layer on top of SQL’. This by default should make it a better candidate for Lambda’s and other Serverless environments. It could also be a hard sell to Prisma regulars that are living their best life using the incredibly developer-friendly TypeScript API’s that it generates from their schema.prisma files. Fret not, despite its query-builder roots, Drizzle has some tricks up its sleeve.

Let’s compare a common query example where we fetch a list of posts and all of it’s comments from the Drizzle docs:

// Drizzle query
const posts = await db.query.posts.findMany({
  with: {
    comments: true,

// Prisma query
const posts = await{
  include: {
    comments: true,

Sweet, it’s literally the same thing. Maybe not that hard of a sale after all. You will certainly find some differences in their APIs, but they are both well-designed and developer friendly in my opinion.

The schema

Similar to Prisma, you define a schema for your database in Drizzle. That’s pretty much where the similarities end. In Drizzle, you define your schema in TypeScript files. Instead of generating an API based off of this schema, Drizzle just infers the types for you, and uses them with their TypeScript API to give you all of the nice type completions and things we’re used to in TypeScript land.

Here’s an example from the docs:

import { integer, pgEnum, pgTable, serial, uniqueIndex, varchar } from 'drizzle-orm/pg-core';

// declaring enum in database
export const popularityEnum = pgEnum('popularity', ['unknown', 'known', 'popular']);

export const countries = pgTable('countries', {
  id: serial('id').primaryKey(),
  name: varchar('name', { length: 256 }),
}, (countries) => {
  return {
    nameIndex: uniqueIndex('name_idx').on(,

export const cities = pgTable('cities', {
  id: serial('id').primaryKey(),
  name: varchar('name', { length: 256 }),
  countryId: integer('country_id').references(() =>,
  popularity: popularityEnum('popularity'),

I’ll admit, this feels a bit clunky compared to a Prisma schema definition. The trade-off for a lightweight TypeScript API to work with your database can be worth the up-front investment though.


Migrations are an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to managing our applications databases. Database schemas change throughout the lifetime of an application, and the steps to accomplish these changes is a non-trivial problem. Prisma and other popular ORMs offer a CLI tool to manage and automate your migrations, and Drizzle is no different.

After creating new migrations, all that is left to do is run them. Drizzle gives you the flexibility to run your migrations in any way you choose. The simplest of the bunch and the one that is recommended for development and prototyping is the drizzle-kit push command that is similar to the prisma db push command if you are familiar with it. You also have the option of running the .sql files directly or using the Drizzle API's migrate function to run them in your application code.

Drizzle Kit is a companion CLI tool for managing migrations. Creating your migrations with drizzle-kit is as simple as updating your Drizzle schema. After making some changes to your schema, you run the drizzle-kit generate command and it will generate a migration in the form of a .sql file filled with the needed SQL commands to migrate your database from point a → point b.


When it comes to your database, performance is always an extremely important consideration. In my opinion this is the category that really sets Drizzle apart from similar competitors.

SQL Focused

Tools like Prisma have made sacrifices and trade-offs in their APIs in an attempt to be as database agnostic as possible. Drizzle gives itself an advantage by staying focused on similar SQL dialects.

Serverless Environments

Serverless environments are where you can expect the most impactful performance gains using Drizzle compared to Prisma. Prisma happens to have a lot of content that you can find on this topic specifically, but the problem stems from cold starts in certain serverless environments like AWS Lambda. With Drizzle being such a lightweight solution, the time required to load and execute a serverless function or Lambda will be much quicker than Prisma.


You can find quite a few different open-sourced benchmarks of common database drivers and ORMs in JavaScript land. Drizzle maintains their own benchmarks on GitHub. You should always do your own due diligence when it comes to benchmarks and also consider the inputs and context. In Drizzle's own benchmarks, it’s orders of magnitudes faster when compared to Prisma or TypeORM, and it’s not far off from the performance you would achieve using the database drivers directly. This would make sense considering the API adds almost no overhead, and if you really want to achieve driver level performance, you can utilize the prepared statements API.

Prepared Statements

The prepared statements API in Drizzle allows you to pre-generate raw queries that get sent directly to the underlying database driver. This can have a very significant impact on performance, especially when it comes to larger, more complex queries. Prepared statements can also provide huge performance gains when used in serverless environments because they can be cached and reused.


I mentioned at the beginning of this article that one of the things that bothered me about Prisma is the fact that fetching relations on queries generates additional sub queries instead of utilizing JOINs. SQL databases are relational, so using JOINs to include data from another table in your query is a core and fundamental part of how the technology is supposed to work. The Drizzle API has methods for every type of JOIN statement. Properly using JOINs instead of running a bunch of additional queries is an important way to get better performance out of your queries. This is a huge selling point of Drizzle for me personally.

Other bells and whistles

Drizzle Studio

UIs for managing the contents of your database are all the rage these days. You’ve got Prisma Studio and EdgeDB UI to name a couple. It's no surprise that these are so popular. They provide a lot of value by letting you work with your database visually. Drizzle also offers Drizzle Studio and it’s pretty similar to Prisma Studio.

Other notable features

  • Raw Queries - The ‘magic’ sql operator is available to write raw queries using template strings.
  • Transactions - Transactions are a very common and important feature in just about any database tools. It’s commonly used for seeding or if you need to write some other sort of manual migration script.
  • Schemas - Schemas are a feature specifically for Postgres and MySQL database dialects
  • Views -Views allow you to encapsulate the details of the structure of your tables, which might change as your application evolves, behind consistent interfaces.
  • Logging - There are some logging utilities included useful for debugging, benchmarking, and viewing generated queries.
  • Introspection - There are APIs for introspecting your database and tables
  • Zod schema generation - This feature is available in a companion package called drizzle-zod that will generate Zod schema’s based on your Drizzle tables


At the time of this writing, I’m not aware of Drizzle offering any tools or specific advice on seeding your database. I assume this is because of how straightforward it is to handle this on your own. If I was building a new application I would probably provide a simple seed script in JS or TS and use a runtime like node to execute it. After that, you can easily add a command to your package.json and work it into your CI/CD setup or anything else.


Drizzle ORM is a performant and type-safe alternative to Prisma. While Prisma is a fantastic library, Drizzle offers some advantages such as a lightweight TypeScript API, a focus on SQL dialects, and the ability to use JOINs instead of generating additional sub queries. Drizzle also offers Drizzle Studio for managing the contents of your database visually, as well as other notable features such as raw queries, transactions, schemas, views, logging, introspection, and Zod schema generation. While Drizzle may require a bit more up-front investment in defining your schema, it can be worth it for the performance gains, especially in serverless environments.

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