We present a facile method for the preparation of polyethyleneglycol diacrylate (PEG-DA) hydrogels with plasmonic gold (Au) nanospheres incorporated for various biological and chemical sensing applications. Plasmonic Au nanospheres were prepared ex situ using the standard citrate reduction method with an average diameter of 3.5 nm and a standard deviation of 0.5 nm, and evaluated for their surface functionalization process intended for uniform dispersion in polymer matrices. UV–Visible spectroscopy reveals the existence of plasmonic properties for pristine Au nanospheres, functionalized Au nanospheres, and PEG-DA with uniformly dispersed functionalized Au nanospheres (hybrid Au/PEG-DA hydrogels). Hybrid Au/PEG-DA hydrogels examined by using Fourier transform infra-red spectroscopy (FT-IR) exhibit the characteristic bands at 1635, 1732 and 2882 cm−1 corresponding to reaction products of OH− originating from oxidized product of citrate, –C=O stretching from ester bond, and C–H stretching of PEG-DA, respectively. Thermal studies of hybrid Au/PEG-DA hydrogels show three-stage decomposition with their stabilities up to 500 °C. Optical properties and thermal stabilities associated with the uniform dispersion of Au nanospheres within hydrogels reported herein will facilitate various biological and chemical sensing applications.