Extracting and using Critical CSS on my Eleventy site

This week I made some enhancements to extracting and implementing Critical CSS on my website that runs on Eleventy. To achieve this, I created a new package called Acclaimed CSS, specializing in Critical CSS extraction. So without further ado, let's delve into its workings and features.

About Acclaimed CSS

Acclaimed CSS is a user-friendly package that simplifies the process of extracting Critical CSS from your website.

It is a wrapper around Penthouse, the original critical path CSS generator, and performs two additional functions:

  1. utilizes the separate file for the configuration, and,
  2. downloads a remote CSS file.

Using Acclaimed CSS

To begin, we must install Acclaimed CSS:

npm install acclaimed

Once installed, we can create a new script to initiate the CSS extraction process. I recommend storing this script in the scripts folder and naming it acclaimed.js.

const acclaimed = require('acclaimed')


Lastly, we must generate a configuration file called .acclaimed.json in the project's root directory. This file will contain information about the website's pages. We can begin by adding the homepage as the first page in this configuration file.

  "css": "https://www.silvestar.codes/css/style.css",
  "out": "home.critical.min.css",
  "url": "https://www.silvestar.codes/",
  "width": 1920,
  "height": 1800,
  "keepLargerMediaQueries": true,
  "strict": false,
  "blockJSRequests": true,
  "renderWaitTime": 300,
  "timeout": 60000,
  "forceExclude": ["@font-face"],
  "forceInclude": [".pic", ".pic svg", ".pic img", ".dark", ".dark .inner:not([id*=\"kss\"])", ".dark img"],
  "phantomJsOptions": {
    "ssl-protocol": "any",
    "ignore-ssl-errors": true

To run the script, you should use the node scripts/acclaimed.js command. Alternatively, you can use the command acclaimed directly in your terminal, but then you have to install Acclaimed globally using the following command: npm install -g acclaimed.

Essentially, we're instructing the package to visit the https://www.silvestar.codes/ webpage, use the https://www.silvestar.codes/css/style.css stylesheet, and save the extracted Critical CSS in a file named home.critical.min.css.

You can find all other options on the Penthouse's page.

Once the Critical CSS is stored and prepared, it is time to update the code and include the files correctly. Below, I'll explain how I accomplished this on my Eleventy and Liquid-based website.

Eleventy and Critical

To begin, we need to add some Liquid filters:

eleventyConfig.addLiquidFilter('criticalExists', (critical) => {
  return fs.existsSync(`./assets/critical/${critical}.critical.min.css`)

eleventyConfig.addLiquidFilter('getCritical', (critical) => {
  return fs.readFileSync(`./assets/critical/${critical}.critical.min.css`)

Next, we'll use these filters in the Liquid template:

{% if loadCritical %}
  <link rel="preload" href="/css/style.min.css" as="style">
  <style>{{ type | getCritical }}</style>
  <link rel="stylesheet" href="/css/mentor.min.css" media="print" onload='this.media="all"'>
{% else %}
  <link rel="stylesheet" href="/css/style.min.css" media="all">
{% endif %}

In the code above, I first check whether the Critical CSS file exists using the criticalExists filter. If the Critical CSS file exists, I use the getCritical filter to retrieve the file's content. Additionally, I preload the CSS file and load it asynchronously when the document loads entirely. If the Critical CSS file does not exist, I load the original CSS file as usual.

The type variable is a custom Eleventy variable I introduced to differentiate between templates on my pages. For example, my homepage has the type home, which means that the criticalExists function checks if the ./assets/critical/home.critical.min.css file exists, and then the getCritical function fetches its content.

Since my website has 22 distinct templates, I have 22 separate Critical CSS files. Once I have included all of these items in my configuration file and generated all Critical CSS files, all I need to do is add the correct type variable to each of my templates. Eleventy will then serve the Critical CSS throughout the site, improving site speed and stability (in terms of Cumulative Layout Shift).

If you're curious about the time it takes to generate 22 different CSS files, it only takes about 13 seconds on my MacBook Pro 2016.


With Acclaimed CSS and some code adjustments, there is no reason not to use Critical CSS in your project. But before you do, check if your website will benefit from using Critical CSS first.