Herein, we report the synthesis of bimetallic Au-Pd and monometallic Au and Pd nanoparticles (NPs) by successive reduction of the respective metal ions using phytochemicals in the form of plant extract under ambient conditions. Phytochemicals act both as reducing and shape directing agent for metal and alloy NPs. The synthesized nanostructures were characterized by different microscopic, spectroscopic and diffractometric techniques. Microscopic results confirmed that the shape and size of the alloy nanostructures can be tuned by varying the concentration ratio of metal ions in the reaction medium. Energy dispersive X-ray and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopic analysis confirmed the formation of bimetallic Au-Pd nanostructures. The purity and crystalline properties were studied by X-ray diffraction technique. UV–vis spectra were recorded to study the optical properties of the synthesized nanostructures. Further, we tested the catalytic activity of both the monometallic and bimetallic alloy nanostructures in borohydride reduction of hazardous organic dye molecules in aqueous medium. The bimetallic alloy NPs exhibit better catalytic activities compared to their respective monometallic nanoparticles. © 2018 Elsevier B.V.