The generation of nanobubbles around plasmonic nanostructures is an efficient approach for imaging and therapy, especially in the field of cancer research. We show a novel method using infrared femtosecond laser that generates ≈800 nm bubbles around off-resonance gold nanospheres using 200 mJ/cm(2) 45 fs pulses. We present experimental and theoretical work that demonstrate that the nanobubble formation results from the generation of a nanoscale plasma around the particle due to the enhanced near-field rather than from the heating of the particle. Energy absorbed in the nanoplasma is indeed more than 11 times the energy absorbed in the particle. When compared to the usual approach that uses nanosecond laser to induce the extreme heating of in-resonance nanoparticles to initiate bubble formation, our off-resonance femtosecond technique is shown to bring many advantages, including avoiding the particles fragmentation, working in the optical window of biological material and using the deposited energy more efficiently.