How to use the React useCallback Hook

  • 23 Sep, 2023
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React’s useCallback Hook: Improving Performance and Preventing Unnecessary Rerenders

React’s useCallback hook is a powerful tool that can greatly improve the performance of your React applications. It is especially useful when working with components that rely on callbacks, such as event handlers. In this article, we’ll explore what useCallback does, how it works, and the proper use cases for this hook.

Understanding Callback Functions

Before we dive into the useCallback hook, it’s important to understand what callback functions are and why they are commonly used in React components. In JavaScript, a callback function is a function that is passed as an argument to another function and is invoked at a later point in time. Callback functions are often used to handle asynchronous events or to perform actions based on user interactions, such as button clicks.

In React, we often use callback functions to update the state of a component or to pass data between parent and child components. However, if these callback functions are created within the component’s body, they are redefined during every render. This can lead to unnecessary rerenders of child components and negatively impact performance.

Introducing useCallback

To prevent unnecessary rerenders and improve performance, React provides the useCallback hook. useCallback is used to memoize a callback function so that it is only recreated when its dependencies change. By doing so, we can ensure that the same instance of the callback function is passed to child components, avoiding unnecessary rerenders caused by callback function changes.

Here is an example to illustrate how useCallback can be used:

import React, { useCallback } from "react";

function MyComponent() {
  const handleClick = useCallback(() => {
    // Handle click event
  }, []);

  return <button onClick={handleClick}>Click me</button>;

In the example above, handleClick is the callback function that is memoized using useCallback. The second argument of useCallback is an array of dependencies. If any of these dependencies change, the callback function will be recreated. By providing an empty array as the second argument, we effectively memoize the callback function so that it is not recreated during subsequent renders.

When to Use useCallback

Now that we understand how useCallback works, let’s explore some common use cases for this hook.

1. Memoizing Callback Functions

As mentioned earlier, useCallback is primarily used to memoize callback functions. This is useful when passing callbacks down to child components, as it ensures that child components only re-render when necessary.

import React, { useCallback } from "react";

function ParentComponent() {
  const handleClick = useCallback(() => {
    // Handle click event
  }, []);

  return <ChildComponent onClick={handleClick} />;

function ChildComponent({ onClick }) {
  // Render child component

In this example, the handleClick function is memoized using useCallback in the ParentComponent. When ParentComponent re-renders, the same instance of handleClick is passed down to ChildComponent. If handleClick was not memoized, ChildComponent would be unnecessarily re-rendered whenever ParentComponent re-renders.

2. Optimizing Complex Computations

useCallback can also be used to optimize complex computations that are performed within a callback. Consider the following example:

import React, { useCallback, useState } from "react";

function MyComponent() {
  const [count, setCount] = useState(0);

  const calculateResult = useCallback(() => {
    // Perform complex computation based on count
    return count * 2;
  }, [count]);

  return (
      <p>Count: {count}</p>
      <p>Result: {calculateResult()}</p>
      <button onClick={() => setCount(count + 1)}>Increment</button>

In this example, the calculateResult function depends on the count state. By passing count as a dependency to useCallback, calculateResult will only be recreated when count changes. This prevents unnecessary recomputation of the result when other state variables or props change.

3. Avoiding Infinite Loops

Another important use case for useCallback is to avoid infinite loops caused by dependencies that change too frequently. When creating a callback function that itself depends on other state variables or props, useCallback can prevent infinite loops.

import React, { useState, useCallback } from "react";

function MyComponent() {
  const [value, setValue] = useState("");

  const handleChange = useCallback((event) => {
  }, []);

  return <input type="text" value={value} onChange={handleChange} />;

In this example, the handleChange function is memoized using useCallback. If we omitted the useCallback hook, handleChange would be redefined on every render, causing the input element to lose focus whenever the user types. By memoizing handleChange using useCallback, we ensure that the same instance of the function is used, preventing unnecessary rerenders and maintaining focus within the input element.

When NOT to Use A useCallback Hook

The useCallback hook in React is used to memoize a function so that it is only re-created when one of its dependencies changes. It can be useful to improve performance and prevent unnecessary re-renders in certain cases. However, there are situations when using useCallback may not be necessary or even recommended:

  1. Functions that don’t have dependencies: If a function doesn’t rely on any variables or props from the component, there is no need to use useCallback to memoize it. In such cases, it’s better to define the function outside the component so that it’s only created once.
  2. Performance overhead: Memoizing functions using useCallback does introduce some performance overhead, as it requires creating and maintaining a memoization cache. If the function is not called very frequently or if the performance impact is negligible, it might be better to avoid using useCallback to keep the code simpler.
  3. Functions needed in child components: If a function is only used internally within a component and is not passed down as a prop to child components, there is no need to memoize it with useCallback. The child components won’t be affected by changes in the parent component’s internal function.
  4. Functions that depend on all or most props: If a function relies on all or most of the props passed to a component, memoizing it with useCallback may not provide significant benefits. In such cases, the function will be re-created whenever any prop changes, making the memoization less effective.

Remember, the decision to use or not use useCallback depends on the specific use case and performance considerations. It’s always a good practice to profile and benchmark your application to determine the impact of using useCallback in different scenarios.


React’s useCallback hook is a powerful tool that can greatly improve the performance of your React applications. By memoizing callback functions, useCallback prevents unnecessary rerenders of child components and optimizes complex computations. Additionally, useCallback helps avoid infinite loops caused by dependencies that change too frequently.

In summary, here are the key takeaways:

  • Use useCallback to memoize callback functions and prevent unnecessary rerenders.
  • Provide the dependencies of the callback function as the second argument to useCallback.
  • Memoize computationally expensive functions to optimize performance.
  • Prevent infinite loops caused by changing dependencies using useCallback.

With useCallback, you can ensure that your React components are efficient, performant, and responsive.