Potatoes can be categorized as waxy–generally called “new potatoes”–and starchy potatoes. Russets are starchy. The little red potatoes you see in the stores are waxy.
For us–hands down–we prefer waxy potatoes for traditional potato salads. The potatoes hold up to boiling better, the chunks hold up to mixing better, and we prefer them over russets which seem dry in a potato salad.
But what works better in a mashed potato salad?
To find out, we made the same potato salad recipe three ways: once with waxy potatoes, once with starchy russets that had been whipped, and once with russets that had been riced. Our taste testers preferred the red waxy potatoes. We preferred riced over mashed russets.
What about making potato salad out of leftover mashed potatoes?
You can certainly make a great potato salad out of leftover mashed potatoes but we still prefer waxy potatoes and riced potatoes to mashed russets. And leftover mashed potatoes sometimes have more butter than we like our mashed potato salad recipes.