How to use Raw SQL Queries in Django

Django, high-level Python web framework, offers powerful Object-Relational Mapping (ORM) layer for database interaction. However there are scenarios where you might need to execute raw SQL queries directly. In this blog post, we’ll explore how to use raw SQL queries in Django when and why you might need them, and best practices to ensure security and maintainability.

When to Use Raw SQL Queries

While Django ORM is incredibly versatile, there are situations where raw SQL queries are preferred:

  1. Complex Joins: When your database query involves intricate joins, subqueries or window functions that are challenging to express using Django QuerySet API.
  2. Database-Specific Features: If you need to leverage database-specific features or functions that are not available through Django’s ORM.
  3. Performance Optimization: In cases where you need to fine-tune queries for maximum performance, such as large-scale data processing or analytics.

Executing Raw SQL Queries

Django provides several ways to execute raw SQL queries:

1. connection.execute()

You can use the connection.execute() method to execute a raw SQL query and fetch results.

from django.db import connection

def custom_query():
    with connection.cursor() as cursor:
        cursor.execute("SELECT * FROM myapp_mymodel WHERE field = %s", ['value'])
        results = cursor.fetchall()
    return results

2. Model.objects.raw()

If you want to map the raw SQL results to Django model, you can use the objects.raw() method.

from myapp.models import MyModel

def custom_query():
    results = MyModel.objects.raw("SELECT * FROM myapp_mymodel WHERE field = %s", ['value'])
    return results

3. Extra()

You can use the extra() method with a QuerySet to inject raw SQL expressions.

from myapp.models import MyModel

def custom_query():
    results = MyModel.objects.filter(field='value').extra(
        select={'custom_column': 'SELECT custom_expression FROM myapp_customtable WHERE condition'}
    return results

Security and Best Practices

When using raw SQL queries follow these best practices to ensure security and maintainability:

  1. Avoid Direct User Input: Never interpolate user input directly into a raw SQL query to prevent SQL injection attacks. Instead, use parameterization and Djangos built-in query parameterization mechanisms.
  2. Documentation: Document raw SQL queries thoroughly, as they may be less self-explanatory than Django ORM-based queries
  3. Testing: Write unit tests to validate the correctness of raw SQL queries and to catch regressions.
  4. Database Portability: Be cautious about using database-specific features that might limit portability to other database backends.


Raw SQL queries are valuable tool in Django when you need to perform complex queries or leverage database-specific features. However, they should be used judiciously and with caution to ensure security and maintainability. By following best practices and understanding when to use raw SQL queries you can harness the full power of Django while accommodating specialized database needs in your web applications.