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(originally created Dec 1st 2019)

Occasionally I found myself needing a wildcard SSL certificate outside of Kubernetes. I didn’t see a ton of documentation around creating the certificates manually and put this together.

The downside with manual creation, is manual renewal every 90 days.

Perfect for a homelab, maybe not so much in production.

1. Register a Domain

First, register a domain with your preferred registrar. I like using Namecheap.

The actual domain name isn’t terribly important since we’ll be handling most of the routing locally.

Registering a domain

2. Generate a Wildcard Certificate with Certbot

We’ll use the certbot ACME client in a Docker container to request a wildcard certificate from Let’s Encrypt.

Run the following command, replacing the email and domain placeholders with your own info:

sudo docker run -it --rm --name certbot \
  -v "/etc/letsencrypt:/etc/letsencrypt" \
  -v "/var/lib/letsencrypt:/var/lib/letsencrypt" \
  certbot/certbot certonly \
  --manual \
  --preferred-challenges=dns \
  --email YOUR_EMAIL \
  --server https://acme-v02.api.letsencrypt.org/directory \
  --agree-tos \

Certbot will prompt you to create a DNS TXT record to verify domain ownership:

Please deploy a DNS TXT record under the name
_acme-challenge.YOUR_DOMAIN with the following value:


Before continuing, verify the record is deployed.

Over on your domain registrar (Namecheap for me), switch to custom DNS and add the requested TXT record:

Adding a TXT record on Namecheap

Debugging DNS

If needed, you can use dig to check how your TXT record appears externally:

dig @ -t txt _acme-challenge.YOUR_DOMAIN +short

Certificate Files

Once the TXT record is verified, Certbot will generate your certificate files:

 - Congratulations! Your certificate and chain have been saved at:
   Your key file has been saved at:
   Your cert will expire on EXPIRY_DATE. To obtain a new or tweaked
   version of this certificate in the future, simply run certbot again.

3. Create a Kubernetes Secret (optional)

If using the cert in Kubernetes, create a secret to hold the files:

sudo kubectl -n nginx-ingress create secret tls default-wildcard \
  --key /etc/letsencrypt/live/YOUR_DOMAIN/privkey.pem \
  --cert /etc/letsencrypt/live/YOUR_DOMAIN/fullchain.pem  

Then reference it in your Ingress resource:

- hosts:
  - '*.YOUR_DOMAIN' 
  secretName: default-wildcard

4. Configure Nginx (optional)

If using Nginx, add the secret name to your Ingress deployment args:

- --default-ssl-certificate=nginx-ingress/default-wildcard

That’s it! You now have a free wildcard SSL certificate ready to use across your homelab services and apps. Enjoy the flexibility and simplicity of securing multiple subdomains with a single cert.


If an app won’t accept a wildcard certificate, simply repeat the Certbot steps for a single subdomain name instead of *.YOUR_DOMAIN.