Suppose I just had Iced Coffee with hot chocolate cake and I want to describe it to others.

I can use "I had an ice cold coffee" but then I'm stuck with the second part. None of the things I can think of really fits, e.g. "steam hot", "sun hot", "oven hot", etc.

Is there any noun I can use in this context to describe something hot?

  • 13
    Scalding would be the one I'd use for liquids. Piping for food. Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 13:46
  • 1
    I have heard the terms "steaming hot" and "boiling hot"
    – njzk2
    Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 16:02
  • 7
    Burning hot. That's pretty much the only thing that came to mind. Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 16:31
  • 2
    Was the cake really hot? Or was it just served warm? To me, hot implies that you have to be careful when you eat it, lest you burn your tongue or the roof or your mouth. I've had hot soup, and I've had hot pizza, but I don't think I've ever had hot cake.
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 18:54
  • 2
    @J.R. I'm talking about something like this - to be technically accurate, the cake contains a super-hot liquid chocolate, while the cake itself is only warm. Since the dish is known just as "hot chocolate cake", didn't want to get into too much details and trouble. Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 23:06

10 Answers 10


If you're describing liquids that are too hot for you, use scalding:

very hot; burning.
e.g. Watch out, the tea is still scaldingly hot!

For food or liquids that are a pleasant temperature, use piping:

(of food or water) very hot.
e.g. "The food's piping hot!"

  • 2
    "I had an ice cold coffee just now, with a piping hot cake". Sounds quite good, thanks! :) Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 13:53
  • 6
    When describing a liquid, you can also say "boiling".
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 14:22
  • 22
    Note that one other difference between these is, "scalding" implies negative (too hot, so hot it'll hurt) while "piping hot" is more positive (appropriately hot, hot like it's freshly made). Even if you're talking about liquids, use "piping hot" if you're happy that it's hot (e.g. MW use the example "the appeal of piping hot cocoa after an afternoon of shoveling snow"). "I had an ice cold coffee just now, with a scalding hot cake" might sound like you're unhappy that it was so hot, or that the contrast in temperature was too much. Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 18:11
  • 15
    @ShadowWizard If you are wondering why the word "piping" means "very hot," it refers to the sound of steam rising from hot pastries as they come out of the oven. The expression dates back to at least the 14th century: it appears in the Canterbury Tales, in a story where a young man offers piping hot waffles to a lady of interest.
    – Crashworks
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 3:12
  • @Crashworks that's useful trivia, thanks! I didn't really wonder, just took it for granted actually. Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 7:10

Since you yourself suggested 'steam hot' - the correct version would be steaming hot, so hot that steam is rising from it:


(as submodifier steaming hot)

Extremely hot: a steaming hot night

[...] He thinks, too, of pumpkin pie and fresh harvested honey and steaming hot cocoa.

according to the OED.

"I just had an ice cold coffee with some steaming hot chocolate cake".

  • Guess the "ing" is what I missed when thinking it over, thanks! :) Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 18:32
  • Not sure about a "steaming hot cake", it sounds a bit odd... However, "steaming hot pudding/pie/soup", i.e., something with some liquid in it, sounds OK, or even, "Would you like a steaming hot piece of steamed sponge, dear?" (I can imagine my mother saying that, TBH). The more I think about it, the more the entire premise of a hot cake sounds less appealing. :-) Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 2:16

With a certain amount of hyperbole at play, you might refer to something as being red hot.

My coffee machine only makes drinks that are ice cold or red hot.

  • 5
    or white hot, which is even hotter; see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black-body_radiation Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 20:24
  • 8
    @ShaneDiDona - That may be the case, but white hot (at least in British English) is not a common expression.
    – Richard
    Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 20:36
  • 1
    @Richard it's not unheard of, I think it's rare, but not non-existent.
    – tox123
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 0:32
  • 4
    White hot is idiomatic in AE.
    – Era
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 0:49
  • 4
    I've heard of "white hot" but never to describe food or drink. Molten steel, sure. Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 12:51

I'm surprised that no one has suggested boiling hot. Maybe it is a British English idiom:

Be careful with that cup of tea, it's boiling hot... I've only just poured it.

Also, as an example

Can you open the window? It's boiling hot in here!


Can you open the window? I'm boiling hot!

It can also be used for objects that do not actually physically boil, for example:

Be careful of those sausages, they are boiling hot and you will burn your mouth. They have just come off the barbecue.

I would add that, in British English at least, scalding hot sounds a little too old fashioned, and something that you might read in a old (30's-60's) children's story book, or your grandmother (or someone born in the 20's) might say (at least that's what springs to my mind).

However, having re-read your question, for a professional context, John's answer could be more appropriate, as boiling is somewhat colloquial.

  • 1
    Thanks, but boiling fits only liquids, i.e. something that can really boil, no? "I had a boiling hot cake" doesn't sound right, at least for me. Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 23:01
  • @ShadowWizard - good point, I hadn't noticed the cake as I had got distracted by the coffee... "boiling hot cake" does, indeed, sound ridiculous :-) Nevertheless, there is a limited set of things that can be described as boiling hot, which don't actually boil, but again, you wouldn't employ them in a profession sense. Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 23:30
  • 1
    @ShadowWizard - I think boiling hot could work even for hot chocolate cake. In that case, boiling would be viewed as an adjective with some presumed hyperbole. See YD's definition, e.g. (It works in AmE, too, btw.)
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 7:58
  • 1
    @J.R. thanks, since English is non-native language for me guess that things which sound weird to me can be correct sometimes. :) Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 8:04
  • 1
    Thanks @Barry. Actually, in Hebrew we use the term "חם רצח" which translates to "murderously hot" - didn't even think of using it, lol. :) Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 12:54

Fiery hot or flaming hot work. "Flaming hot" best if there's actual fire involved, e.g. "a flaming hot skillet of fajita toppings". While "fiery hot" might describe the extra spicy sauce for said fajitas. Not sure I'd use either of them for a cake though.


This doesn't fit the noun requirement, but "smoking hot" came to mind for general informal use. It suggests an exceptional amount of heat.

In a more formal context, I'd go with "steaming hot" or "piping hot". If you want to imply that it was too hot to safely eat, "scalding hot" could work nicely.

"Ice-cold" does refer to a noun. The term is used a lot in reference to beverages that have been chilled by adding ice, or have been chilled nearly to the freezing point of water. Ice is probably the coldest thing we normally encounter.

On the other hand there are many levels of heat. "Hot" could refer to a shower, coffee, boiling water, a heating element that's started glowing, fire, and so on. Any of these could be encountered between waking up and eating breakfast, so there's not one that seems to stand out as an ideal reference point. It's more about what you can observe; something could be releasing steam, hot enough to burn your mouth, hot enough to emit smoke, or actually on fire.

  • 4
    As a side note, I hear "smoking hot" (or just "smoking") used more often with people than food. I'm not sure if it's a dialect thing, but it's worth mentioning.
    – anon
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 4:58
  • 1
    I would agree with @QPaysTaxes - Smoking hot is normally used in a context of [often sexual] desirability, usually people, or provocative actions made by people. It can also apply to cars [again from the desirability aspect], i.e., That sure is one smoking hot Lambourgini, or even commercial sales thereof (see U.S. Vehicle Sales Smoking Hot in July, But Will the Trend Continue?). Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 23:17

The most common adjective I've seen is "searing" hot:

marked by extreme intensity, harshness, or emotional power

  • 3
    That's not terrible, but for food it's not all that common. Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 3:38
  • @NathanTuggy - I agree with your comment, with the possible exception of steaks and chops.
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 7:55
  • 1
    @J.R But chops and steaks are cooked on a searing hot grill, they aren't themselves searing hot. They might be sizzling or steaming hot.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 15:14
  • @Colleen - I only meant to point about that I have less of a problem with "searing hot steak" than with "searing hot cake." And if you can't imagine eating a searing hot steak, then maybe you should eat at Mo's. :-)
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 18:06
  • @J.R. Interesting - I can see how it might make sense. The picture doesn't really look like that steak is "searing hot" It would make a lot more sense to me if the steak were crusted with Thai chili peppers. That's what I think of when I hear food described as "searing hot". Usually "searing hot" is for pain or summer weather though.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 21:50

Blazing Hot

From reverso it says

Blazing sun or blazing hot weather is very hot.


"boiling hot"

"This drink is boiling hot." Corresponds quite nicely to the "This drink is ice cold." Perhaps generally used for describing liquid.

(Other than this, I would say CompuChip's answer: "steaming hot" is the other option that seems to be most directly similar to "ice cold" if you're trying to describe a drink. Many of the other answers, like "blazing hot", are also good for describing hotness, and might even be better in some other contexts. For instance, a Fudgsicle (a Popsicle made of chocolate/fudge) might be quite literally "ice cold", but super-spicy food might be described as "blazing hot", possibly trying to reference the flames on a grill).

  • You probably missed this answer. With so many answers it's easy to miss something. Anyway, thanks but someone else already suggested same thing. Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 11:22
  • 2
    @ShadowWizard : I did. Right now I really, honestly don't know how I did, but evidence does show that I did. I thank you for your kindness of not downvoting, and I hereby request nobody upvote my answer here. Instead, upvote Greenonline's answer "boiling hot" (and/or CompuChip's answer "steaming hot"-- you're perfectly allowed to upvote both if you like both of their answers.)
    – TOOGAM
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 16:41

A way to compare to the illustration created by ice cold, could be to go for another natural hot liquid.

Consider "lava" hot. This term is used in foods like "lava cake" which is a chocolate cake that has hot chocolate syrup in it.

This "equates" better if you are trying to create a mental picture using natural forces.

  • 2
    Not sure. "I had a lava hot cake" just doesn't sound right to me. (If you'll notice, mentioned it in the question itself. :)) Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 15:20
  • I've heard of "lava cake" before. It's a flavor/style. If I heard "lava hot cake", I might treat that as two adjectives (like "chocolate sweet cake" or "raspberry-filled white cake"). That's specific to cake (which Everett identifies as a known example). For this type of coffee drink, "lava java" may be a particularly good match of words. Though lava may be appropriate metaphor for some other foods, I don't think I'm familiar with it being common.
    – TOOGAM
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 16:36

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .