The huge volume expansion in Sn-based alloy anode materials (up to 360%) leads to a dramatic mechanical stress and breaking of particles, resulting in the loss of conductivity and thereby capacity fading. To overcome this issue, SnO2@C nano-rattle composites based on <10 nm SnO2 nanoparticles in and on porous amorphous carbon spheres were synthesized using a silica template and tin melting diffusion method. Such SnO2@C nano-rattle composite electrodes provided two electrochemical processes: a partially reversible process of the SnO2 reduction to metallic Sn at 0.8 V vs. Li+/Li and a reversible process of alloying/dealloying of LixSny at 0.5 V vs. Li+/Li. Good performance could be achieved by controlling the particle sizes of SnO2 and carbon, the pore size of carbon, and the distribution of SnO2 nanoparticles on the carbon shells. Finally, the areal capacity of SnO2@C prepared by the melt diffusion process was increased due to the higher loading of SnO2 nanoparticles into the hollow carbon spheres, as compared with Sn impregnation by a reducing agent.