The present work depicts the efficient one-step synthesis and detailed evaluation of stable aqueous colloids of silver nanoparticles (NPs) coated with poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) covalently attached to their surface. Due to steric repulsion between polymer-modified surfaces, the stability of the nanoparticle suspension was preserved even at high ionic strength (0.1 M NaCl). At the same time, the PEG coating remains sufficiently permeable to allow surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) from micromolar concentrations of small molecules such as the anticancer drug mitoxantrone (MTX). The enhancement efficiency of the hot spot-free Ag-PEG was compared to that of citrate-stabilized Ag colloids used after pre-aggregation. The potential of the polymer-stabilized colloids developed in this study is discussed in terms of bioanalytical applications of SERS spectroscopy.