Food News

Local Finds: RoseBud Aims to Make the Best Ice Cream Ever

RoseBud Ice Cream was started by entrepreneur Sam Rose in 2019 after years of planning.
RoseBud Ice Cream was started by entrepreneur Sam Rose in 2019 after years of planning. RoseBud Ice Cream/Instagram
In Local Finds, recipe developer and freelance writer Ashlee Redger highlights standout local food brands and dishes up recipes using their goods.

Brand: RoseBud Ice Cream

Where to find it: RoseBud Ice Cream is a retail-only brand (it does not have its own storefront). Pints can be found at independent markets like Leevers Locavore as well as many King Soopers and Whole Foods locations across Colorado. It is also available for local delivery through DoorDash and Pinemelon. Check its website for the full list of retailers across the country.

About the business: Confidence, competitiveness and perfectionism: These are the qualities that RoseBud Ice Cream founder Sam Rose embodies. Since launching in 2019, Rose's pints have landed in the freezer aisle of over a hundred stores across Colorado, Illinois, California and Texas. Now grocery shoppers across the country are experiencing the colorful branding and nostalgic flavors that are the result of years of planning, long hours and lots (and lots) of taste tests.
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RoseBud has eight ice cream flavors in its normal lineup, including Choco-Lotta Cookies, Paw Prints and Moonlight Daydream.
RoseBud Ice Cream

Rose is originally from the suburbs outside of Chicago. When he was growing up, his father worked as an insurance broker and his mother was a Clinique sales representative. "Both of my parents worked very hard. It had a very good influence on me, to want to emulate that hard work ethic," Rose says.

He studied entrepreneurship at DePaul University, and during his senior year, he pitched an investor on a concept that he had worked on for two years: a dispensary in Oregon. "She laughed me out of the meeting," Rose recalls. After that rejection, he remembers a friend jokingly suggesting that he start a THC-infused ice cream business. "I took that joke seriously," he adds, so he began developing the product and moved to Denver after graduating in 2016 to make it happen.

Rose started working in professional ice cream kitchens in order to learn everything he could about starting his company. His business strategy wasn't the only thing he brought with him; he also has a passion for boxing. In 2019, Rose won the Colorado Golden Gloves boxing tournament, but he faced a different kind of knockout when the investors for his infused ice cream business fell through. With help from his business partner, Ben Gelt, Rose pivoted to CBD-infused ice cream and launched RoseBud Ice Cream in November of that year.
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During the pandemic, Rose and his friends set up in grocery store parking lots to give ice cream samples to shoppers.
RoseBud Ice Cream
Rose quit his day job to pursue RoseBud full-time in March 2020. You can probably guess what happened next. "[It was] about three days before the stay-at-home orders were issued, so that was a really great time to lose my health insurance," he jokes.

At the time, Rose pushed to get his CBD-infused flavors (like OG Dreamsicle and Lemon Hazeberry) into stores, but didn't have much luck. That summer, he connected with Whole Foods' local program, which requested non-infused flavors. In response, Rose released Midnight Mint, coffee-spiked Covfefe and Moonlight Daydream, which is his take on the ineffable Midwestern favorite, blue moon ice cream.

Slowly, RoseBud's non-infused flavors started growing beyond the CBD ones. "We eventually just continued on the mission of making the best ice cream ever, without infusing it," Rose says.

Throughout its iterations, RoseBud has kept the motto that it can make "a bad day good and a good day great." None of the flavors are infused with THC or CBD anymore, but that doesn't make them any less special, considering the care that Rose puts into the development process.

He took five years to perfect the Fancy A** Vanilla and StrawVery Tasty flavors before releasing them in 2021. One of the newest varieties to join the RoseBud lineup is a simple but honed chocolate ice cream. Chocolate is Rose's mom's favorite ice cream, so he would mail sample batches to Chicago for her to taste. "Finally, she's like, 'Oh, you got it right! You finally listened!'" he recounts. "I had been listening the whole time, which is why we didn't have one yet." His mom came up with the name, and after six years of testing, Mighty Fine Chocolate was released last fall.
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RoseBud's Mighty Fine Chocolate Ice Cream took six years to perfect.
RoseBud Ice Cream

With all of his new flavors, Rose does trial runs and hosts ice cream parties for friends to try them out. He surveys their responses and repeats the process until the recipe gets a unanimous perfect score. For his own preferences, Rose considers himself an ice cream "purist" and likes simple ice creams made with high-quality dairy, without chunks or bits mixed in. He is coming around to the idea that those are a favorite of many, though.

"If that's what people enjoy and that's how they get their smile from ice cream, then we should honor that," he explains. "I think that when done right, which is how we do things, mix-ins can be very tasty." Rose is currently working on several recipes that he's hoping to launch this summer as limited-time offers — and yes, you can expect some fun mix-ins.

New ice creams aren't the only thing keeping Rose busy. He coaches a team at Topeira Boxing Club a few days a week. Between his boxing classes, sampling RoseBud in stores and running his business, Rose says, he works twelve-hour days, seven days a week.

King Soopers locations around the state started carrying his ice creams last summer, but he doesn't want to stop there. In addition to its current reach throughout Texas, California and Illinois, RoseBud Ice Cream will be going into forty stores in Louisiana this month. He hopes to expand to a thousand stores by the end of 2024.

Rose admits that the real estate in the ice cream aisle is competitive, but he's up for the challenge. "I'm so emphatic that if you're going to do it, it's got to be great. One of the most rewarding things for me is the idea that someone is able to open up a pint of our stuff — and, really, I'm selling smiles, not ice cream," he concludes.

How to use it: It's March, and you know what that means: We are all collectively deluding ourselves into believing spring is just around the corner (even when we know there is about a month and a half of winter left in Colorado). I am already in a warm weather mindset, though, so bring on the ice cream sammies!

For extra springtime effect, here's a floral and fruity version using lavender sugar cookies and RoseBud's StrawVery Tasty ice cream:
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Subtle lavender flavor complements RoseBud's StrawVery Tasty Ice Cream.
Ashlee Redger

Lavender & Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwiches
The cookies were adapted from the New York Times Chewy Earl Grey Sugar Cookies recipe.
Makes 15 cookies or 7 ice cream sandwiches + 1 cookie snack

For sugar coating:
  • 50 grams sparkling sugar, turbinado sugar or additional granulated sugar (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon culinary-grade dried lavender (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon flaky salt (optional)
For lavender sugar cookies:
  • 113 grams unsalted butter (1 stick; 8 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 tsp dried culinary-grade lavender
  • 100 grams granulated sugar (about 1/2 cup)
  • 50 grams brown sugar (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 200 grams all-purpose flour (about 1 2/3 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
For ice cream sandwiches:
  • 1 pint RoseBud StrawVery Tasty ice cream


For sugar coating:
  1. Add flaky salt and lavender (if using) to sugar. Use clean fingers to combine the mixture and press the lavender between your fingertips. Rubbing the lavender into the sugar in this way will help release its flavor and break up the salt a little so it distributes more evenly. Set the mixture aside until ready to use.
For lemon lavender sugar cookies:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Melt butter in a small saucepan until it just begins to sizzle (do not brown). Pour it into a large bowl along with the lavender and let it cool slightly, a few minutes.
  3. Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt and lemon zest to the bowl with the butter. Use a whisk to vigorously stir until everything is combined (it'll look grainy at this point, but that's fine).
  4. Add the egg and vanilla to the butter mixture, then whisk again until smooth.
  5. Add flour, baking powder and baking soda to the wet ingredients and use a rubber spatula to stir the dough together. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to incorporate all of the flour into the dough.
  6. Portion 2 tablespoons of dough, then roll into a ball for each cookie. Roll each ball through the sugar coating, then place it on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Leave about two inches between each dough ball.
  7. Bake the cookies until they are puffed, matte and lightly golden, about 12 to 15 minutes.
  8. Let the cookies cool completely on the pan. Pop them in the freezer once they are completely cooled. Keep them frozen until you're ready to assemble the sandwiches, at least 30 minutes. If the cookies are warm or room temperature when you're assembling the ice cream sandwiches, it can cause the ice cream to melt before it can re-freeze.
For ice cream sandwiches:
  1. Let ice cream soften until it is easily scoopable (but not melty!), about ten minutes at room temperature.
  2. Pull two cookies out of the freezer at a time. Working quickly, scoop a spoonful of ice cream onto the flat bottom of one of the cookies. Spread the ice cream to the edge, then top with another cookie. Gently press the sandwich together, being careful not to break or smash the cookies. Place the sandwich into the freezer immediately after assembly.
  3. Repeat the process with the remaining cookies, placing each sandwich back in the freezer when it is assembled.
  4. Store the sandwiches, frozen in an airtight container, for up to a month. Let each ice cream sandwich soften at room temperature for a few minutes before enjoying it.
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Ashlee Redger is a recipe developer and food geek with strong Midwestern roots. When she’s not cooking & baking, you can find her obsessing about podcasts, acting busy in coffee shops and searching for fancy cocktails around town.
Contact: Ashlee Redger

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