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Environment Variables in Azure Functions with Key Vault

Using environment variables from Azure Key Vault is a little different for Functions than Web Applications. Here's how to get it working.

While working on a project that used a mixture of Azure App Services and Functions, I needed to use environment variables. Having read about Azure Key Vault, I knew that it held all the answers (or secrets.)

Some quick Google-Fu later and my Node.js apps running in App Services were accessing environment variables with process.env.{secret}. Using this newfound knowledge, and to no avail, I tried to give the same access to my Azure Functions running in App Services.

After much web (and soul) searching, I found the solution and would love to share it for the benefit of future generations.

permalinkAzure Key Vault

The Azure Key Vault supplies a way to store keys and secrets outside of the context of an application. Using access policies, you can allow your applications to access and/or manage the keys within the vault. You can include any secrets, from API keys to connection strings, in your vault.

permalinkAccessing Secrets as Environment Variables

To access Key Vault secrets as environment variables in your Azure App Service, you will need to setup an Access Policy.

Identity blade of Azure app service in portal

To do this, go to the Identity menu option in your App Service and access the “System assigned” tab.

Set the “Status” control to “On” and press Save. This will register your app service with the Azure Active Directory. Now you can create an access policy for your App Service in the Key Vault.

Azure Key Vault's Access Policies blade

Open your Key Vault and go to the “Access policies” setting. Once there, click ”+ Add Access Policy.”

On the add access policy page, set any permissions for keys, secrets and/or certificates. If you only want secrets added as environment variables, you can simply supply the “Get” permission for “Secret permissions.”

Add access policy window within Azure portal

In the “Select principal” option, search for your App Service’s name and select it. Next, press the “Add” button to add the policy and then “Save” on the Access Policies page to commit the changes.

Your App Service can now access your secrets as environment variables.

permalinkWait!?! My Azure Function’s App Service cannot see the Environment Variables

Correct. Welcome to the dilemma this post is destined to solve.

The steps above are needed, but there are a few more steps to access your key vault secrets within Azure Function App Services.

First, decide what specific secrets you want your Function App Service to access. Then, find that secret in your key vault and copy its Secret Identifier. It will look like:

permalinkConfiguring AppSettings to Access Key Vault Secrets

In your Function App Service, click on “Configuration” and add a new application setting. Give it the name you want to access as an environment variable. In the “value” field, enter the following:


Finally, press “OK” and “Save” to commit the new setting.

You can now access that secret as an environment variable from within your Azure Function.

permalinkWrap it up

Hopefully, this quick walk-through helps save you time in the future when trying to fight this battle yourself.