Rattle-type magnetic mesoporous hollow carbon (RMMHC) materials have shown great promise as adsorbents for water treatment. In this work, we report a surfactant-free synthesis of RMMHC nanoparticles (NPs) using magnetite NPs as the core, tetrapropyl orthosilicate, resorcinol and formaldehyde to form the shell followed by carbonization and selective silica etching. The pore size, specific surface area and pore volume of RMMHC NPs can be tuned by varying the carbonization temperature (500, 700 and 900 °C). At the optimized temperature of 700 °C, the RMMHC NPs possess the highest specific surface area of 579 m2 g−1, the largest pore volume of 0.795 cm3 g−1, and the largest pore size of 7.6 nm among all three samples. The adsorption capacity of optimized RMMHC NPs towards di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (a model organic pollutant) reaches as high as 783.1 mg g−1. Taking advantage of the magnetic property, the adsorbents retain more than 87% of their initial adsorption capacity over five times' reuse.