Error: Can't set headers after they are sent to the client

Better Stack Team
Updated on March 11, 2024

The "Error: Can't set headers after they are sent to the client" error typically occurs in Node.js when you attempt to set HTTP headers (e.g., using res.setHeader() or res.writeHead()) after the response has already been sent to the client. This error indicates a logical error in your code where you are trying to modify the response headers after it has already been finalized and sent.

Here are some common causes and solutions for this error:

Asynchronous Operations

If you are performing asynchronous operations and trying to modify the response headers inside a callback, ensure that the response hasn't been sent before you attempt to modify the headers.

app.get('/', (req, res) => {
  // Asynchronous operation, e.g., querying a database
  someAsyncOperation((data) => {
    // Check if response has already been sent
    if (!res.headersSent) {
      res.setHeader('Content-Type', 'application/json');

Calling res.send() Multiple Times

Calling res.send() or res.end() more than once in the same request handler can trigger this error. Ensure that you have proper flow control to avoid sending the response multiple times.

app.get('/', (req, res) => {
  // Incorrect: sending response twice
  res.send('First response');
  res.send('Second response'); // This will trigger the error

  // Correct: send response only once
  res.send('Correct response');

Using Middleware Incorrectly

If you are using middleware that modifies the response headers, make sure it is placed in the correct order. Middleware order matters, and you should place middleware that modifies headers before the middleware that sends the response.

Using Both res.setHeader() and res.send()

If you set headers using res.setHeader() and also use res.send() later, consider using the res.set() method, which combines setting headers and sending the response.

app.get('/', (req, res) => {
  res.set('Content-Type', 'application/json');
  res.send('{"message": "Hello"}');

5. Review Code for Logical Errors:

Carefully review your code for logical errors, especially in control flow, and ensure that you are not unintentionally modifying headers after the response has been sent.

By addressing the above points and carefully examining your code, you should be able to resolve the "Error: Can't set headers after they are sent to the client" issue in your Node.js application.

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