Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are among the most attractive porous materials known today. Their miniaturization to the nanoscale-into nanoMOFs-is expected to serve myriad applications from drug delivery to membranes, to open up novel avenues to more traditional storage and catalysis applications, and to enable the creation of sophisticated superstructures. Here, we report the use of spray-drying as a versatile methodology to assemble nanoMOFs, yielding spherical hollow superstructures with diameters smaller than 5 μm. This strategy conceptually mimics the emulsions used by chemists to confine the synthesis of materials, but does not require secondary immiscible solvents or surfactants. We demonstrate that the resulting spherical, hollow superstructures can be processed into stable colloids, whose disassembly by sonication affords discrete, homogeneous nanoMOFs. This spray-drying strategy enables the construction of multicomponent MOF superstructures, and the encapsulation of guest species within these superstructures. We anticipate that this will provide new routes to capsules, reactors and composite materials. © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.