Effective hotspot engineering with facile and cost-effective fabrication procedures is critical for the practical application of surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS). We propose a SERS substrate composed of a metal film over polyimide nanopillars (MFPNs) with three-dimensional (3D) volumetric hotspots for this purpose. The 3D MFPNs were fabricated through a two-step process of maskless plasma etching and hydrogel encapsulation. The probe molecules dispersed in solution were highly concentrated in the 3D hydrogel networks, which provided a further enhancement of the SERS signals. SERS performance parameters such as the SERS enhancement factor, limit-of-detection, and signal reproducibility were investigated with Cyanine5 (Cy5) acid Raman dye solutions and were compared with those of hydrogel-free MFPNs with two-dimensional hotspots. The hydrogel-coated MFPNs enabled the reliable detection of Cy5 acid, even when the Cy5 concentration was as low as 100 pM. We believe that the 3D volumetric hotspots created by introducing a hydrogel layer onto plasmonic nanostructures demonstrate excellent potential for the sensitive and reproducible detection of toxic and hazardous molecules.