Palladium nanoparticles (PdNPs) were encapsulated within hybrid hydrogels made from an acylhydrazide-functionalised 1,3:2,4-dibenzylidene sorbitol (DBS-CONHNH2) low-molecular-weight gelator (LMWG) combined with agarose polymer gelator via in situ reduction of Pd(II). These heterogeneous gel-phase catalysts were successfully applied for copper-, amine- and phosphine-free Sonogashira cross-coupling reactions under environmentally-friendly conditions without the need for inert atmosphere reaction conditions. The PdNP-loaded gel was reused in Sonogashira couplings up to at least five times with no adverse effect on yield. The performance of solvated PdNP-loaded gel catalysts was compared with the dried xerogels. The xerogels can be used at higher temperatures, enhancing reaction kinetics albeit lowering reaction selectivity, but unlike the solvated gels, were unable to be easily recycled and reused. The PdNP-loaded gels also had good activity in Heck reactions, and although longer reaction times or higher temperatures were required than for the Sonogashira reaction, the reaction conditions were mild for a Heck coupling. In summary, we demonstrate a ‘waste-to-wealth’ methodology in which Pd(II) ‘waste’ is converted into a valuable gel-phase catalyst that can be used for green Sonogashira and Heck cross-coupling reactions.