Herein we describe the preparation of molecularly imprinted silica nanoparticles by Ostwald ripening in the presence of molecular templates immobilised on glass beads (the solid-phase). To achieve this, a seed material (12 nm diameter silica nanoparticles) was incubated in phosphate buffer in the presence of the solid-phase. Phosphate ions act as a catalyst in the ripening process which is driven by differences in surface energy between particles of different size, leading to the preferential growth of larger particles. Material deposited in the vicinity of template molecules results in the formation of sol-gel molecular imprints after around 2 hours. Selective washing and elution allows the higher affinity nanoparticles to be isolated. Unlike other strategies commonly used to prepare imprinted silica nanoparticles this approach is extremely simple in nature and can be performed under physiological conditions, making it suitable for imprinting whole proteins and other biomacromolecules in their native conformations. We have demonstrated the generic nature of this method by preparing imprinted silica nanoparticles against targets of varying molecular mass (melamine, vancomycin and trypsin). Binding to the imprinted particles was demonstrated in an immunoassay (ELISA) format in buffer and complex media (milk or blood plasma) with sub-nM detection ability.