There is a pressing need for sustainable transportation fuels to combat both climate change and dwindling fossil fuel reserves. Biodiesel, synthesised from non-food plant (e.g., Jatropha curcas) or algal crops is one possible solution, but its energy efficient production requires design of new solid catalysts optimized for the bulky triglyceride and fatty acid feedstocks. Here we report on the synthesis of hierarchical macroporous-mesoporous silica and alumina architectures, and their subsequent functionalization by propylsulfonic acid groups or alkaline earth oxides to generate novel solid acid and base catalysts. These materials possess high surface areas and well-defined, interconnected macro-mesopore networks with respective narrow pore size distributions tuneable around 300 nm and 5 nm. Their high conductivity and improved mass transport characteristics enhance activity towards transesterification of bulky tricaprylin and palmitic acid esterification, over mesoporous analogues. This opens the way to the wider application of hierarchical catalysts in biofuel synthesis and biomass conversion.