Configure Karpenter

There are two main configuration mechanisms that can be used to configure Karpenter: Environment Variables / CLI parameters to the controller and webhook binaries and the karpenter-global-settings config-map.

Environment Variables / CLI Flags

Environment Variable CLI Flag Description
DISABLE_WEBHOOK --disable-webhook Disable the admission and validation webhooks (default = false)
ENABLE_PROFILING --enable-profiling Enable the profiling on the metric endpoint (default = false)
HEALTH_PROBE_PORT --health-probe-port The port the health probe endpoint binds to for reporting controller health (default = 8081)
KARPENTER_SERVICE --karpenter-service The Karpenter Service name for the dynamic webhook certificate
KUBE_CLIENT_BURST --kube-client-burst The maximum allowed burst of queries to the kube-apiserver (default = 300)
KUBE_CLIENT_QPS --kube-client-qps The smoothed rate of qps to kube-apiserver (default = 200)
LEADER_ELECT --leader-elect Start leader election client and gain leadership before executing the main loop. Enable this when running replicated components for high availability. (default = true)
MEMORY_LIMIT --memory-limit Memory limit on the container running the controller. The GC soft memory limit is set to 90% of this value. (default = -1)
METRICS_PORT --metrics-port The port the metric endpoint binds to for operating metrics about the controller itself (default = 8000)
WEBHOOK_PORT --webhook-port The port the webhook endpoint binds to for validation and mutation of resources (default = 8443)


Karpenter installs a default configuration via its Helm chart that should work for most. Additional configuration can be performed by editing the karpenter-global-settings configmap within the namespace that Karpenter was installed in.

apiVersion: v1
kind: ConfigMap
  name: karpenter-global-settings
  namespace: karpenter
  # The maximum length of a batch window. The longer this is, the more pods we can consider for provisioning at one
  # time which usually results in fewer but larger nodes.
  batchMaxDuration: 10s
  # The maximum amount of time with no new pending pods that if exceeded ends the current batching window. If pods arrive
  # faster than this time, the batching window will be extended up to the maxDuration. If they arrive slower, the pods
  # will be batched separately.
  batchIdleDuration: 1s
  # Role to assume for calling AWS services.
  aws.assumeRoleARN: arn:aws:iam::111222333444:role/examplerole
  # Duration of assumed credentials in minutes. Default value is 15 minutes. Not used unless aws.assumeRole set.
  aws.assumeRoleDuration: 15m
  # Cluster CA bundle for nodes to use for TLS connections with the API server. If not set, this is taken from the controller's TLS configuration.
  aws.clusterCABundle: "LS0tLS1..."
  # [REQUIRED] The kubernetes cluster name for resource discovery
  aws.clusterName: karpenter-cluster
  # The external kubernetes cluster endpoint for new nodes to connect with. If not specified, will discover the cluster endpoint using DescribeCluster API
  # The default instance profile to use when provisioning nodes
  aws.defaultInstanceProfile: karpenter-instance-profile
  # If true, then instances that support pod ENI will report a resource
  aws.enablePodENI: "false"
  # Indicates whether new nodes should use ENI-based pod density. DEPRECATED: Use `.spec.kubeletConfiguration.maxPods` to set pod density on a per-provisioner basis
  aws.enableENILimitedPodDensity: "true"
  # If true, then assume we can't reach AWS services which don't have a VPC endpoint
  # This also has the effect of disabling look-ups to the AWS pricing endpoint
  aws.isolatedVPC: "false"
  # The VM memory overhead as a percent that will be subtracted
  # from the total memory for all instance types
  aws.vmMemoryOverheadPercent: "0.075"
  # aws.interruptionQueueName is disabled if not specified. Enabling interruption handling may
  # require additional permissions on the controller service account. Additional permissions are outlined in the docs
  aws.interruptionQueueName: karpenter-cluster
  # Global tags are specified by including a JSON object of string to string from tag key to tag value
  aws.tags: '{"custom-tag1-key": "custom-tag-value", "custom-tag2-key": "custom-tag-value"}'
  # Reserved ENIs are not included in the calculations for max-pods or kube-reserved
  # This is most often used in the VPC CNI custom networking setup
  aws.reservedENIs: "1"

Feature Gates

Karpenter uses feature gates. You can add a feature gate’s ConfigKey to the karpenter-global-settings ConfigMap above with the desired value.

Feature Default Config Key Stage Since Until
Drift false featureGates.driftEnabled Alpha v0.21.0

Batching Parameters

The batching parameters control how Karpenter batches an incoming stream of pending pods. Reducing these values may trade off a slightly faster time from pending pod to node launch, in exchange for launching smaller nodes. Increasing the values can do the inverse. Karpenter provides reasonable defaults for these values, but if you have specific knowledge about your workloads you can tweak these parameters to match the expected rate of incoming pods.

For a standard deployment scale-up, the pods arrive at the QPS setting of the kube-controller-manager, and the default values are typically fine. These settings are intended for use cases where other systems may create large numbers of pods over a period of many seconds or minutes and there is a desire to batch them together.


The batchIdleDuration is the period of time that a new pending pod extends the current batching window. This can be increased to handle scenarios where pods arrive slower than one second part, but it would be preferable if they were batched together onto a single larger node.

This value is expressed as a string value like 10s, 1m or 2h45m. The valid time units are ns, us (or µs), ms, s, m, h.


The batchMaxDuration is the maximum period of time a batching window can be extended to. Increasing this value will allow the maximum batch window size to increase to collect more pending pods into a single batch at the expense of a longer delay from when the first pending pod was created.

This value is expressed as a string value like 10s, 1m or 2h45m. The valid time units are ns, us (or µs), ms, s, m, h.

AWS Parameters


Global tags are applied to all AWS infrastructure resources deployed by Karpenter. These resources include:

  • Launch Templates
  • Volumes
  • Instances

Tags are specified by including a JSON object of string to string from tag key to tag value.

  aws.tags: '{"custom-tag1-key": "custom-tag-value", "custom-tag2-key": "custom-tag-value"}'