Pesticides are a safety issue globally and cause serious concerns for the environment, wildlife and human health. The handheld detection of four pesticide residues widely used in Basmati rice production using surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) is reported. Different SERS substrates were synthesised and their plasmonic and Raman scattering properties evaluated. Using this approach, detection limits for pesticide residues were achieved within the range of 5 ppb-75 ppb, in solvent. Various extraction techniques were assessed to recover pesticide residues from spiked Basmati rice. Quick, Easy, Cheap, Effective, Rugged and Safe (QuEChERs) acetate extraction was applied and characteristic spectral data for each pesticide was obtained from the spiked matrix and analysed using handheld-SERS. This approach allowed detection limits within the matrix conditions to be markedly improved, due to the rapid aggregation of nanogold caused by the extraction medium. Thus, detection limits for three out of four pesticides were detectable below the Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) of 10 ppb in Basmati rice. Furthermore, the multiplexing performance of handheld-SERS was assessed in solvent and matrix conditions. This study highlights the great potential of handheld-SERS for the rapid on-site detection of pesticide residues in rice and other commodities.