Mbed TLS

Mbed TLS is a C library that implements cryptographic primitives, X.509 certificate manipulation and the SSL/TLS and DTLS protocols. Its small code footprint makes it suitable for embedded systems.


ESP-IDF uses a fork of Mbed TLS which includes a few patches (related to hardware routines of certain modules like bignum (MPI) and ECC) over vanilla Mbed TLS.

Mbed TLS supports SSL 3.0 up to TLS 1.3 and DTLS 1.0 to 1.2 communication by providing the following:

  • TCP/IP communication functions: listen, connect, accept, read/write.

  • SSL/TLS communication functions: init, handshake, read/write.

  • X.509 functions: CRT, CRL and key handling

  • Random number generation

  • Hashing

  • Encryption/decryption


Mbed TLS is in the process of migrating all the documentation to a single place. In the meantime, users can find the documentation at the old Mbed TLS site .

Mbed TLS Support in ESP-IDF

Please find the information about the Mbed TLS versions present in different branches of ESP-IDF here.


Please refer the ESP-IDF Migration Guide to migrate from Mbed TLS version 2.x to version 3.0 or greater.

Application Examples

Examples in ESP-IDF use ESP-TLS which provides a simplified API interface for accessing the commonly used TLS functionality.

Refer to the examples protocols/https_server/simple (Simple HTTPS server) and protocols/https_request (Make HTTPS requests) for more information.

If the Mbed TLS API is to be used directly, refer to the example protocols/https_mbedtls.


ESP-TLS acts as an abstraction layer over the underlying SSL/TLS library and thus has an option to use Mbed TLS or wolfSSL as the underlying library. By default, only Mbed TLS is available and used in ESP-IDF whereas wolfSSL is available publicly at https://github.com/espressif/esp-wolfSSL with the upstream submodule pointer.

Please refer to ESP-TLS: Underlying SSL/TLS Library Options docs for more information on this and comparison of Mbed TLS and wolfSSL.

Important Config Options

Following is a brief list of important config options accessible at Component Config -> mbedTLS. The full list of config options can be found here.


Mbed TLS v3.0.0 and later support only TLS 1.2 and TLS 1.3 (SSL 3.0, TLS 1.0, TLS 1.1 and DTLS 1.0 are not supported). The support for TLS 1.3 is experimental and only supports the client-side. More information about this can be found out here.

Performance and Memory Tweaks

Reducing Heap Usage

The following table shows typical memory usage with different configs when the protocols/https_request example (with Server Validation enabled) was run with Mbed TLS as the SSL/TLS library.

Mbed TLS Test

Related Configs

Heap Usage (approx.)



42196 B

Enable SSL Variable Length


42120 B

Disable Keep Peer Certificate


38533 B

Enable Dynamic TX/RX Buffer


22013 B


These values are subject to change with change in configuration options and versions of Mbed TLS.

Reducing Binary Size

Under Component Config -> mbedTLS, there are multiple Mbed TLS features which are enabled by default but can be disabled if not needed to save code size. More information can be about this can be found in Minimizing Binary Size docs.