In situ-generated, glucose-derived palladium(0) nanoparticles were shown to be convenient and effective catalysts for aqueous Mizoroki-Heck, Sonogashira and Suzuki-Miyaura cross-coupling reactions. The addition of only 4-10 mol% glucose to the reaction mixture lead to a significant increase in yield of the desired products in comparison to processes that omitted the renewable sugar. Interestingly, the Mizoroki-Heck reaction was observed to proceed in good yield even as the reaction reached acidic pH levels. Extensive analysis of the size and morphology of the in situ-formed palladium nanoparticles using advanced analytical techniques showed that the zero valent metal was surrounded by hydrophilic hydroxyl groups. The increased aqueous phase affinity afforded by these groups allowed for facile recycling of the catalyst.