A new facile and scalable approach for utilizing basic ionic liquid, 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium hydroxide ([BMIM]+OH−) for the fabrication of different shapes of ceria nanostructures was adopted. The features of the fabricated ceria and their corresponding gold nanocatalysts were characterized by employing ICP, HRTEM, XRD, XPS, BET and UV–vis spectroscopy. Catalytic performance of CeO2 and its dependence on shape was studied in the oxidation of CO and olefins epoxidation. The ratio between the ionic liquid and cerium precursor is one of the valuable factors used to monitor the growth of the particles. The catalytic performance of ceria was found to be dependent on the morphology of the catalysts. The catalytic performance of CeO2 in the form of nanorod shapes is better than that of nanocubes and bulk. The deposition of gold nanoparticles on different shaped CeO2 much enhanced their catalytic performance. This enhancement in catalytic performance was, however, more significant in the case of rod-shaped ceria.