© 2018 Elsevier B.V. Colloidal silver (Ag) nanoparticles (AgNP) have been widely used for surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) applications. We report a simple, rapid and effective method to prepare AgNP colloids for SERS using the classic organic chemistry Ag mirror reaction with Tollens’ reagent. The AgNP colloid prepared with this process was characterized using SEM, and the reaction conditions further optimized using SERS measurements. It was found that Ag mirror reaction conditions that included 20 mM AgNO3, 5 min reaction time, and 0.5 M glucose produced AgNP colloids with an average size of 319.1 nm (s.d ± 128.1). These AgNP colloids exhibited a significant SERS response when adenine was used as the reporter molecule. The usefulness of these new AgNP colloids was demonstrated by detecting the nucleotides adenosine 5′-mono-phosphate (AMP), guanosine 5′-monophosphate (GMP), cytidine 5′-monophosphate (CMP), and uridine 5′-monophosphate (UMP). A detection limit of 500 nM for AMP was achieved with the as-prepared AgNP colloid. The bacterium Mycoplasma pneumoniae was also easily detected in laboratory culture with these SERS substrates. These findings attest to the applicability of this AgNP colloid for the sensitive and specific detection of both small biomolecules and microorganisms.